Vector-borne transmission of Besnoitia besnoiti by blood-sucking and secretophagous flies: Epidemiological and clinicopathological implications

Sándor Hornok, András Fedák, Ferenc Baska, Walter Basso, László Dencso, Gergely Tóth, Levente Szeredi, Tamás Abonyi, Béla Dénes

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Background: Bovine besnoitiosis has been recently diagnosed in a three-parted herd of 796 Aubrac and Charolais beef cattle in Hungary. A large scale serological, histological and molecular survey was initiated in order to uncover important factors in the local epidemiology of the disease. Findings: Blood samples were collected (three times from the whole herd, and repeatedly from selected animals) for serological screening by ELISA. In addition, various organs from aborted fetuses and newborn calves, skin and colostrum samples of seropositive heifers/cows, and ticks collected from the cattle were histologically and/or molecularly analysed for the presence of Besnoitia besnoiti. All fetal and calf tissues, as well as colostrum and tick samples from cows were PCR negative. Based on ELISA results, only very few local cows seroconverted after mating with imported, infected bulls, and not necessarily as a consequence of this event. Among calves that were born to seropositive, imported cows and stayed with their mother until weaning at seven months of age, seroprevalence decreased significantly, but remained high. At the same time, 28 calves born from seropositive cows, but separated from their dams immediately after receiving colostrum, were successfully reared and remained uninfected. Following a second herd-level screening, all Aubrac cattle (except for heifer calves) and all seropositive Charolais cows and bulls were culled. Manifestation of the disease is currently sporadic. Among chronically affected heifers two types of skin lesions were noted, and histological evaluation indicated marked distension of sweat gland ducts with membrane-bound structures (resembling cystozoites) in their contents. Conclusions: Transmission through natural mating, as well as transplacental, colostral and tick-borne transmission of B. besnoiti was either unlikely or did not occur. However, the risk for spreading of the infection was high, when calves stayed with their mother during suckling, and if animals were kept in the same stable (although physically separated) during the main fly season. Herd replacement and generation exchange (i.e. early weaning and artificial feeding) appear to be the successful strategies for the local eradication of bovine besnoitiosis. Adding to the already known mechanical transmission of B. besnoiti by blood-sucking flies, results of the present study suggest that secretophagous flies should also be evaluated as potential vectors of this coccidium species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number450
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 4 2015



  • Besnoitia besnoiti
  • Eradication
  • Fly
  • Tick
  • Transplacental
  • Vector-borne
  • Venereal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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