Laetitia Lempereur1, Relja Beck2, Isabel Fonseca3, Cátia Marques3, Ana Duarte3, Marcos Santos3, Sara Zúquete3, Jacinto Gomes4, Gernot Walder5, Ana Domingos6, Sandra Antunes6, Gad Baneth7, Cornelia Silaghi8, Patricia Holman9, Annetta Zintl10
Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 2017 Jan;17(1):51-65. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2016.1955.
The genera Babesia and Theileria (phylum Apicomplexa, order Piroplasmida) are mainly transmitted by Ixodid ticks in which the sexual part of their life cycle followed by sporogony takes place. They include protozoan parasites that infect erythrocytes of a variety of vertebrate hosts, including domestic and wild animals, with some Babesia spp. also infecting humans. Babesia sporozoites transmitted in the tick’s saliva during the bloodmeal directly infect erythrocytes, where they asexually multiply to produce pear-shaped merozoites in the process of merogony; whereas a pre-erythrocytic schizogonic life stage in leukocytes is found in Theileria and precedes merogony in the erythrocytes. The wide spectrum of Babesia and Theileria species and their dissimilar characteristics with relation to disease severity, transmission, epidemiology, and drug susceptibility stress the importance of accurate detection of babesiosis and theileriosis and their causative agents. These guidelines review the main methods currently used for the detection of Babesia and Theileria spp. for diagnostic purposes as well as epidemiological studies involving their vertebrate hosts and arthropod vectors. Serological methods were not included once they did not indicate current infection but rather exposure.
Keywords: Babesia; PCR; Theileria; diagnosis; in vitro culture.