Epizootiology and Molecular Identification of Trypanosome Species in Livestock Ruminants in the Gambia

Alpha Kargbo, Godwin Ebiloma, Yakubu Kokori Enevene Ibrahim, Gloria Dada Chechet, Momodou Jeng, Emmanuel Oluwadare Balogun

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Introduction African Animal Trypanosomiasis (AAT) or nagana in animals, is caused by the blood-borne parasitic protozoa called trypanosomes, and is potentially fatal. It is estimated that Africa loses $4‒5 billion annually due to the death of livestock to nagana in the tsetse belt. Purpose Although The Gambia lies within this belt, there is scanty data regarding the epizootiology of nagana in The Gambia. Here, records of reported cases of nagana for the period 2010–2019 at the International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC) in The Gambia were analyzed retrospectively. Methods For insights into the current prevalence of AAT, blood samples of 384 cattle, 42 goats, and 59 sheep from the Central River Region (CRR) and Lower River Region (LRR) were analyzed microscopically for parasite identification. Furthermore, trypanosomes were characterized by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using a panel of primers that identify trypanosomes to the level of the species and subspecies by targeting a portion of the internally transcribed spacer-one (ITS1) of the ribosomal RNA. Results The retrospective study indicates that Trypanosoma vivax (66%) and T. congolense (33.4%) were the predominant species. Based on the archive records of ITC, the villages Touba, Misera, and Sambel Kunda all in the CRR of the Gambia are the most burdened with AAT. Microscopic examination of blood samples from cattle showed a prevalence of 1.56%, whereas the PCR-based analysis gave a higher prevalence of 12.5%. The molecular analysis revealed the presence of T. vivax (3.65%), T. congolense kilifi (2.6%), T. b. brucei (1.3%), T. congolense savannah/forest (0.52%), T. b. gambiense (0.52%). Interestingly, 4.43% of mixed infections i.e. multiple trypanosome species in individual animals were recorded. In 18% of the mixed infection cases, T. godfreyi, T. simiae were coinfecting cattle alongside T. congolense. The molecular identification including the phylogenetic analysis implicated T. congolense as the most predominant trypanosome species infecting animals in The Gambia. Conclusion The incidence of nagana in The Gambia is documented and the prevalent trypanosomes identified to be T. vivax, different types of T. congolense, and T. brucei including the gambiense subspecie. Finally, nagana is less profound in sheep and goats compared to cattle, with seasonal and regional variations playing a significant role in the disease dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Parasitologica
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2021


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