Molecular surveillance of novel tick-borne organisms in Madagascar's lemurs

Barbara A. Qurollo, Peter A. Larsen, Hajanirina H. Rakotondrainibe, Karine Mahefarisoa, Tsiky Rajaonarivelo, Josia Razafindramanana, Edward B. Breitschwerdt, Randall E. Junge, Cathy V. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The discovery and characterization of emerging tick-borne organisms are critical for global health initiatives to improve animal and human welfare (One Health). It is possible that unknown tick-borne organisms underlie a subset of undiagnosed illness in wildlife, domesticated species, and humans. Our study lends support to the One Health concept by highlighting the prevalence of three blood-borne organisms in wild lemurs living in close proximity to domesticated species and humans. Previously, our team identified three novel, presumably tick-borne, intravascular organisms, belonging to the genera Babesia, Borrelia, and Neoehrlichia, circulating in two of Madagascar's lemur species. Here, we extend our previous observation by developing a targeted molecular surveillance approach aimed at determining the prevalence of these organisms in lemurs. Using quantitative PCR, we provide Babesia, Borrelia, and Neoehrlichia prevalence data for 76 individuals comprising four lemur species located in eastern Madagascar. Our results indicate a high prevalence (96%) of Babesia across sampled individuals with lower prevalences for Neoehrlichia (36%) and Borrelia (14.5%). In light of our results, we recommend additional studies of these tick-borne organisms to determine pathogenicity and assess zoonotic potency to other animals and humans in Madagascar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-677
Number of pages6
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM) [proposal number (1950) 2016–2411] and the Vector-Borne Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (VBDDL) at North Carolina State University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier GmbH


  • Babesia
  • Borrelia
  • Lemurs
  • Madagascar
  • Neoehrlichia
  • One health


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