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Original Article

AJVS. 2021; 71(1): 22-29

Phenotypic and Genotypic Identification of Ticks infesting dogs (Canis familiaris) in Abuja, Guinea Savannah region of Nigeria

Sylvester S. Obeta, Idris I. Lawal, Joseph A. Natala, Anthony C. Mgbeahuruike, Isaac N. Ogo, Maxwell N. Opara, Cornelius O. Jegede, Emmanuel O. Balogun.


Hard ticks are not only haematophagus ectoparasites of vertebrates, but vectors of several micro-organisms that cause severe diseases around the world. In Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Nigeria, tick infestation is major setback to improvement of livestock and companion animals due to misdiagnoses. The combination of morphological and molecular approach have been documented as a reliable and most appropriate procedure for accurate identification of tick species. Therefore, this study aimed to identify ticks that infest dogs across the six Area Councils of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja-Nigeria. Ticks (n=2041) were collected from dogs sampled (n=480) for a period of one year and identified morphologically. Genomic DNA was extracted from representative identified tick specimen (n=30) and were amplified in Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) using genus specific primers targeting 18S rRNA gene. The products were electrophoresed on 1.5% agarose gel, purified and sequenced bidirectionally. The nucleotide sequences were analysed in BLASTn in NCBI data base. A phylogenetic tree was constructed using Neighbour-Joining Algorithms. The identification by morphology showed that ticks were belonging to 2 Genera: Rhipicephalus and Amblyomma. The most abundant species was Rhipicephalus (99.9%), and then Amblyomma (0.1%). DNA amplification showed bands size of 173 bp and the BLASTn search analysis revealed 99-100% identity with R. sanguineus in the GenBank. The phylogenetic analysis showed that strains of the R. sanguineus were similar to those previously reported in Israel and Cuba. In conclusion, Rhipicephalus sanguineus was the most abundant tick found among dogs screened in Abuja, Nigeria, irrespective of their use. This is the first molecular identification of dog ticks in the FCT and may have epidemiological significance in the control of ticks and tick-borne disease in the region.

Key words: Canis familiaris, Tick, characterisation, FCT-Nigeria

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