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Detection of Babesia DNA in blood and spleen samples from Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) in Scotland


Babesia are intraerythrocytic parasites of importance worldwide within the fields of human and veterinary medicine, as some Babesia sp., including Babesia microti are potentially zoonotic and can cause fatal disease in both humans and animals. The aims of this study were to use a nested PCR (amplifying the 18S rRNA gene) to determine the presence and species of Babesia parasite DNA found in blood (n = 47) and spleen (n = 47) samples collected from Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) in Scotland. The results showed 28/47 (59·6%) blood and 14/47 (29·8%) spleen samples tested positive for the presence of Babesia DNA. Initial sequence analysis of the Babesia DNA identified three distinct sequence types (submitted to GenBank KX528553, KX528554 and KX528555), which demonstrated ⩾99% identity to Babesia sp. parasites previously identified in badgers in Spain (KT223484 and KT223485). Phylogenetic analysis showed that the three isolates are closely related to Babesia annae, B. microti and other Piroplasmida species found in wildlife. Further sequence analysis of the samples demonstrated that the badgers were routinely infected with more than one parasite isolate and there was also evidence of genetic recombination between the Babesia parasite isolates (submitted to GenBank KY250472 – KY250477)

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, EH26 0PZ, Scotland, UK. E-mail:
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