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Pathogens 2015, 4(3), 626-638; doi:10.3390/pathogens4030626

Molecular Detection and Characterization of Theileria Infecting Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

1
Department of Biochemistry, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), P.O. Box 62000-00200, City Square, Nairobi, Kenya
2
Department of Veterinary Services, Kenya Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 40241-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
3
Institute For Biotechnology Research (IBR), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), P.O. Box 62000, City Square 00200, Nairobi, Kenya
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Lawrence Young
Received: 18 June 2015 / Revised: 1 August 2015 / Accepted: 11 August 2015 / Published: 18 August 2015
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Abstract

Theileria is a genus of tick-borne protozoan that is globally widespread and infects nearly all ungulates in which they cause either latent infection or lethal disease. Wild animals are considered reservoir hosts of many species of Theileria and their diversity in wildlife species is increasingly becoming of interest. The molecular characterization and identification of Theileria infecting wildlife has been studied in a few species including buffalo, which are considered reservoir host for Theileria parva infecting cattle. In this study, we sequenced Theileria species infecting wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) and used molecular-genetic and phylogenetic analysis of the 18 Small Subunit of the Ribosomal RNA (18S rRNA) to identify their relationships with known species of Theileria. Our results revealed three new Theileria haplotypes infecting wildebeest. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that haplotype 1 and 2 clustered in the same clade as Theileria separata and with Theileria sp. isolated from other small to medium sized antelopes. Haplotype 3 clustered close to the Theileria ovis clade. This is the first molecular description and characterization of Theileria species infecting blue wildebeest in East Africa. This study demonstrates the potential for Theileria transmission between wildebeest and small domestic ungulates, such as sheep and goats. View Full-Text
Keywords: wildlife-livestock interface; tick-borne diseases; ticks; Theileria; wildlife wildlife-livestock interface; tick-borne diseases; ticks; Theileria; wildlife
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Wamuyu, L.; Obanda, V.; Kariuki, D.; Gakuya, F.; Makanda, M.; Otiende, M.; Ommeh, S. Molecular Detection and Characterization of Theileria Infecting Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Pathogens 2015, 4, 626-638.

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