Background: Bats are among the most eco-epidemiologically important mammals, owing to their presence in human settlements and animal keeping facilities. Roosting of bats in buildings may bring pathogens of veterinary-medical importance into the environment of domestic animals and humans. In this context bats have long been studied as carriers of various pathogen groups. However, despite their close association with arthropods (both in their food and as their ectoparasites), only a few molecular surveys have been published on their role as carriers of vector-borne protozoa. The aim of the present study was to compensate for this scarcity of information. Findings: Altogether 221 (mostly individual) bat faecal samples were collected in Hungary and the Netherlands. The DNA was extracted, and analysed with PCR and sequencing for the presence of arthropod-borne apicomplexan protozoa. Babesia canis canis (with 99-100 % homology) was identified in five samples, all from Hungary. Because it was excluded with an Ixodidae-specific PCR that the relevant bats consumed ticks, these sequences derive either from insect carriers of Ba. canis, or from the infection of bats. In one bat faecal sample from the Netherlands a sequence having the highest (99 %) homology to Besnoitia besnoiti was amplified. Conclusions: These findings suggest that some aspects of the epidemiology of canine babesiosis are underestimated or unknown, i.e. the potential role of insect-borne mechanical transmission and/or the susceptibility of bats to Ba. canis. In addition, bats need to be added to future studies in the quest for the final host of Be. besnoiti.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases