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Molecular detection of Anaplasma platys, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Wolbachia sp. but not Ehrlichia canis in Croatian dogs


The bacteria Anaplasma platys, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Ehrlichia canis are tick-borne agents that cause canine vector-borne disease. The prevalence of these pathogens in South Eastern Europe is unknown with the exception of an isolated case of A. platys detected in a dog imported into Germany from Croatia. To gain a better insight into their presence and prevalence, PCR-based screening for these bacterial pathogens was performed on domesticated dogs from different regions of Croatia. Blood samples from 1080 apparently healthy dogs from coastal and continental parts of Croatia as well as tissue samples collected from 63 deceased dogs with a history of anaemia and thrombocytopenia were collected for molecular screening by an Anaplasmataceae-specific 16S rRNA conventional PCR. Positive samples were confirmed using a second Anaplasmataceae-specific PCR assay with the PCR product sequenced for the purpose of bacterial species identification. All sequenced isolates were georeferenced and a kernel intensity estimator was used to identify clusters of greater case intensity. 42/1080 (3.8%; CI 2.7–5.0) of the healthy dogs were PCR positive for bacteria in the Anaplasmataceae. Sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene amplified from these positive samples revealed the presence of A. platys in 2.5% (CI 1.6–3.4%, 27 dogs), A. phagocytophilum in 0.3% (CI 0–0.6%, 3 dogs) and a Wolbachia endosymbiont in 1.1% (CI 0.4–1.6%, 12 dogs) of dogs screened in this study. Necropsied dogs were free from infection. Notably, no evidence of E. canis infection was found in any animal. This survey represents a rare molecular study of Anaplasmataceae in dogs in South Eastern Europe, confirming the presence of A. platys and A. phagocytophilum but not E. canis. The absence of E. canis was surprising given it has been described in all other Mediterranean countries surveyed and raises questions over the regional vector capacity of the Rhipicephalus sanguineus tick.

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The research was financed by the Croatian Scientific Foundation Grant number 1957, acronym GENOTICKTRECK. We are grateful for the excellent technical support of Marija Stublić and Kristina Skrbin from the Croatian Veterinary Institute. We are also thankful to prof. Mrljak and prof. Živičnjak for providing a portion of samples for analysis in this study. This paper was published under the framework of EurNegVec COST Action TD1303.

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Correspondence to Relja Beck.

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Huber, D., Reil, I., Duvnjak, S. et al. Molecular detection of Anaplasma platys, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Wolbachia sp. but not Ehrlichia canis in Croatian dogs. Parasitol Res 116, 3019–3026 (2017).

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  • Anaplasma platys
  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum
  • Ehrlichia canis
  • Molecular survey
  • Dogs
  • Anaemia and thrombocytopenic distribution