Detection and molecular identification of Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Babesia spp. infections in Hyalomma aegyptium ticks in Tunisia
Tortoises of the genus Testudo are the main hosts of Hyalomma aegyptium ticks. This species serves as a vector of several zoonotic pathogens. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate the presence of four pathogens associated with H. aegyptium ticks obtained from tortoises from Tunisia. Conventional, multiplex and nested PCRs were used for Aanaplasma phagocytophilum, Ehrlichia canis, Coxiella burnetii and Babesia spp. screening. The molecular analyses revealed the presence of A. phagocytophilum and Babesia spp. None of the ticks, were infected by E. canis or C. burnetii species. Co-infection was detected in four ticks. As a conclusion, this is the first detection of A. phagocytophilum and Babesia spp. in H. aegyptium ticks collected from tortoises, in Tunisia. Thus, considering these results, the spur-thighed tortoise constitute a potential host of H. aegyptium which plays an important role in the transmission of pathogenic agents affecting both human and animals. In term of public health, a strict control and surveillance should be carried to reduce the circulation of such pathogens between different hosts.