Tick fauna and associated Rickettsia, Theileria, and Babesia spp. in domestic animals in Sudan (North Kordofan and Kassala States)
Ticks and tick-borne diseases (TBDs) have a major economic impact on animal production worldwide. In the present study, 2410 ticks were collected from January to August 2017 from livestock and other domestic animals in North Kordofan and Kassala, Sudan, for species identification and investigation of <i>Rickettsia</i> spp. and piroplasms, either individually or as pools containing up to 10 ticks by molecular methods. In total, 13 tick species were identified by morphology and 16S rDNA sequencing. The most frequent tick species were <i>Hyalomma impeltatum</i> (24.90%), <i>Rhipicephalus evertsi evertsi</i> (18.84%), <i>Amblyomma lepidum</i> (16.06%), and <i>Rhipicephalus camicasi</i> (12.49%). A pan-<i>Rickettsia</i> real-time PCR revealed an overall minimum infection rate (MIR) with <i>Rickettsia</i> spp. of 5.64% (136 positive tick pools/2410 total ticks). <i>Rickettsia africae</i> and <i>Rickettsia aeschlimannii</i> were the most frequently identified species by sequencing. Furthermore, the following highly pathogenic livestock parasites were detected: <i>Theileria annulata</i>, <i>Theileria lestoquardi</i>, <i>Theileria equi</i>, and <i>Babesia caballi</i>. The present study documented <i>Rhipicephalus afranicus</i> as well as <i>Rickettsia conorii israelensis</i>, <i>Rickettsia massiliae</i>, and <i>Babesia pecorum</i> for the first time in Sudan. These findings are significant for the animal production sector as well as in terms of One Health, as the detected <i>Rickettsia</i> spp. can cause serious illness in humans.