Tick-Borne Pathogens in Puerto Rican Livestock: A Molecular Approach
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Tick-borne pathogens (TBPs) are a significant source of health and economic burden in the Puerto Rican livestock industry. Previous research suggests that upwards of U.S. $6.7 million is lost annually to TBP related infestations. Additionally, changes in climate have been known to disrupt tick distribution and the prevalence of TBPs. This project seeks to evaluate the presence and distribution of various TBPs in ticks sampled from Puerto Rican livestock, post-Hurricane Maria in 2017. To accomplish this goal, our team collaborated with USDA-APHIS officials in Puerto Rico. To this end, USDA-APHIS veterinarians collected tick samples from livestock (cattle and horses) from different premises across the island. Samples were submitted to our laboratory and were screened for pathogens using both conventional PCR and real-time quantitative PCR. The results of this study show 81.1% of the cattle premises to be positive for Anaplasma/Ehrlichia spp., and 24.2% of the cattle premises to be positive for Babesia bovis and Babesia bigemina. We also detected Babesia caballi in 9.8% of the horse premises. The results of this study will inform stakeholders of the TBP diversity affecting Puerto Rican livestock, as well as the distribution of those pathogens throughout the island. This information will be useful in future programs focused on effective eradication and management of TBP transmitting ticks.
Blackburn, Payton M (2020). Tick-Borne Pathogens in Puerto Rican Livestock: A Molecular Approach. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from