Indexed on: 13 Feb '09Published on: 13 Feb '09Published in: Veterinary Research
Babesia sp. (EU1), first characterized in 2003, has been implicated in human cases of babesiosis in Italy, Austria and Germany. It has been identified in roe deer and in its suspected tick vector, Ixodes ricinus, in several European countries. The aim of the present study was to validate the competence of I. ricinus as a vector of Babesia sp. (EU1) via experimental infections. For this purpose, a parasite strain isolated from roe deer was cloned in sheep erythrocytes. After experimental infections, parasite DNA was successfully amplified by PCR in both eggs and larvae originating from infected I. ricinus females and in the salivary glands of females exposed to Babesia sp. (EU1) as nymphs. We also demonstrate that infected females were able to transmit parasite DNA during a new blood meal. Together with previous epidemiological studies, these results validate I. ricinus as a competent vector for Babesia sp. (EU1).