The suitability of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) as hosts for the cattle ticks Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus and Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus, has been well documented. These ticks have a wide host range, and both transmit Babesia bovis and Babesia bigemina, the agents responsible for bovine babesiosis. Although this disease and its vectors have been eradicated from the United States and some states in northern Mexico, it still is a problem in other Mexican states. It is not known if wild cervids like white-tailed deer can act as reservoirs for bovine babesiosis. The purpose of this study was to determine if B. bovis and B. bigemina or antibodies against them occur in white-tailed deer in the states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, Mexico. Twenty blood samples from white-tailed deer from two ranches were collected and tested with a nested polymerase chain reaction (nested PCR) and indirect immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT) for B. bovis and B. bigemina. Eleven samples were positive for B. bigemina and four for B. bovis by nested PCR; amplicon sequences were identical to those reported in GenBank for B. bovis (Rap 1) and B. bigemina. Results of the IFA test showed the presence of specific antibodies in serum samples. This is the first report of the presence of B. bovis and B. bigemina in white-tailed deer using these techniques and underscores the importance of cervids as possible reservoirs for bovine babesiosis.
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