Hemoparasites in horses from the Mounted Police Unit of the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security

Keywords: Anaplasma sp., Ehrlichia sp., Babesia caballi, Theileria equi, Stomoxys calcitrans


There are intracellular hemoparasites (protozoan and bacterial) that parasitize various blood cells and extracellular hemoparasites, such as protozoan Trypanosoma evansi, that cause diseases in both animals and humans. In tropical areas such as Costa Rica, the transmission of hemoparasites is favored by the abundance of hematophagous arthropods acting as biological vectors (for example, ticks are biological vectors of the protozoa Babesia sp. and Theileria sp. and bacteria such as Ehrlichia sp. and Anaplasma sp.) and mechanical vectors (flies and horseflies are mechanical vectors of Anaplasma marginale and Trypanosoma evansi). The objective of this study was to determine the presence of blood parasites (Anaplasma spp., Ehrlichia spp., Babesia caballi, Theileria equi, and Trypanosoma evansi) in equines of the Costa Rican Mounted Police Unit and the relationship with their general health condition. A total of 41 equines underwent a clinical examination. Blood and ectoparasite samples were later taken from the equines as well as from their environment. The subjects’ clinical history (previous conditions and results of recent blood counts) was also reviewed. DNA was extracted and analyzed from the samples (blood and arthropods) using different protocols of the conventional or real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. Eight (19.5%) horses were positive for hemoparasites, a new Anaplasma species (n=2), co-infection of this new Anaplasma species with B. caballi (n=2), B. caballi (n=1), T. equi (n=1), new species of Ehrlichia (n=1), and in one horse only the presence of Anaplasmataceae could be detected. Stomoxys calcitrans collected near the horses were positive for B. caballi. Both PCR positive and PCR negative horses presented anemia in the absence of clinical signs. The complete genome of the two new pathogens detected in horses (Anaplasma sp. and Ehrlichia sp.) should be sequenced, and the vectorial competence of Stomoxys calcitrans flies should be investigated for hemoparasites in horses.


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How to Cite
Arguedas Herrera, J., Solórzano Morales, A., & Dolz, G. (2023). Hemoparasites in horses from the Mounted Police Unit of the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security. Ciencias Veterinarias, 41(1), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.15359/rcv.41-1.2

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