Translocation a potential corridor for equine piroplasms in Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra)

Rae Marvin Smith, Raksha Vasantrai Bhoora, Antoinette Kotze, J. Paul Grobler, Desire Lee Dalton

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Translocation of animals in fragmented habitats is an important means of dispersal and gene flow, however, the
movement of animals has led to the spread of various diseases globally and wildlife are often the reservoirs of
these diseases. Currently, Cape mountain zebra are translocated within South Africa as a management method
for augmentation of isolated and fragmented populations. The movement of pathogens due to translocations in
local regions have gone largely unchecked, particularly where there may still be isolated regions that can be
negatively affected. Equine piroplasmosis is a tick-borne disease caused by Theilaria equi and/or Babesia caballi
reported to occur in equids (Bhoora et al., 2010; Zweygarth et al., 2002). Here, the presence of T. equi and B.
caballi was detected in 137 clinically healthy Cape mountain zebra from three South African reserves, Mountain
Zebra National Park (MZNP), De Hoop Nature Reserve (DHNR) and Karoo National Park (KNP) using the
multiplex EP real-time PCR (qPCR) assay. We observed 100% prevalence for T. equi and identified only one
animal from MZNP with B. caballi. These results affirm that precautions should be taken prior to founding new
populations of Cape mountain zebra and that potential farms and properties adjacent to prospective reserves
should be screened for the presence of the organisms in order to mitigate risks of infection to domestic animals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-133
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2019


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