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Article

Tick Infestation and Piroplasm Infection in Barbarine and Queue Fine de l’Ouest Autochthonous Sheep Breeds in Tunisia, North Africa

1
Laboratory of Infectious Animal Diseases, Zoonosis and Sanitary Regulation, Institution of Agricultural Research and Higher Education, National School of Veterinary Medicine of Sidi Thabet, Univ. Manouba, Sidi Thabet 2020, Tunisia
2
Laboratory of Parasitology, Institution of Agricultural Research and Higher Education, National School of Veterinary Medicine of Sidi Thabet, Univ. Manouba, Sidi Thabet 2020, Tunisia
3
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), P.O. Box 5689, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
4
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), P.O. Box 950764, Amman 11195, Jordan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2021, 11(3), 839; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030839
Received: 12 October 2020 / Revised: 19 December 2020 / Accepted: 23 December 2020 / Published: 16 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diseases of Sheep)
Ticks and tick-borne pathogens affect the productivity of sheep in Tunisia. Searching for genetically resistant breeds to infestation by ticks may represent an alternative to the overuse of chemical drugs. The aim of this study was to assess if there is any difference in tick infestation among the main sheep breeds in Tunisia. Four hundred and thirty-nine ear-tagged ewes from Barbarine and Queue Fine de l’Ouest (QFO) breeds were examined and sampled each trimester for two years. Ticks were identified to the species level, and piroplasms were detected using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Queue Fine de L’Ouest ewes were markedly less infested by ticks, and none was infected by piroplasms compared with Barbarine conterparts. The QFO sheep breed could be considered in concrete control strategies, including a breeding program.
As ticks and tick-borne pathogens affect the productivity of livestock, searching for genetically resistant breeds to infestation by ticks may represent an alternative to the overuse of chemical drugs. The aim of this study was to assess if there is a difference in tick infestation among the main sheep breeds in Tunisia. The study was carried out between April 2018 and January 2020 in 17 small to middle-sized sheep flocks from 3 regions across Tunisia. Four hundred and thirty-nine ear-tagged ewes from Barbarine (n = 288, 65.6%) and Queue Fine de l’Ouest (QFO) (n = 151, 34.4%) breeds were examined and sampled each trimester. Ticks were identified to the species level, and piroplasms were detected using PCR that targets a common sequence ARNr18S to both Babesia and Theileria genera using catch-all primers. Totally, 707 adult ticks were collected from animals; 91.4% (646/707) of them were Rhipicephalus sanguineus s.l. Queue Fine de l’Ouest animals were markedly less infested by ticks, and no one of them was infected by piroplasms compared to the Barbarine breed. Indeed, during the first four seasons, 21 animals, all from the Barbarine breed, were detected positive for piroplasms. This is the first study in Tunisia about the low susceptibility of QFO ewes to infestation by ticks and to infection by piroplasms. The QFO sheep breed could be raised preferably at high-risk areas of tick occurrence and could be considered in concrete control strategies, including a breeding program. View Full-Text
Keywords: breed; sheep; resistance; ticks; piroplasms; Tunisia breed; sheep; resistance; ticks; piroplasms; Tunisia
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MDPI and ACS Style

Khamassi Khbou, M.; Rouatbi, M.; Romdhane, R.; Sassi, L.; Jdidi, M.; Haile, A.; Rekik, M.; Gharbi, M. Tick Infestation and Piroplasm Infection in Barbarine and Queue Fine de l’Ouest Autochthonous Sheep Breeds in Tunisia, North Africa. Animals 2021, 11, 839. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030839

AMA Style

Khamassi Khbou M, Rouatbi M, Romdhane R, Sassi L, Jdidi M, Haile A, Rekik M, Gharbi M. Tick Infestation and Piroplasm Infection in Barbarine and Queue Fine de l’Ouest Autochthonous Sheep Breeds in Tunisia, North Africa. Animals. 2021; 11(3):839. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030839

Chicago/Turabian Style

Khamassi Khbou, Médiha, Mariem Rouatbi, Rihab Romdhane, Limam Sassi, Mohamed Jdidi, Aynalem Haile, Mourad Rekik, and Mohamed Gharbi. 2021. "Tick Infestation and Piroplasm Infection in Barbarine and Queue Fine de l’Ouest Autochthonous Sheep Breeds in Tunisia, North Africa" Animals 11, no. 3: 839. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030839

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