We collected 69 ticks from nine, free-ranging Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) between 2002 and 2011 and investigated them for tick-borne pathogens. DNA was extracted using alkaline digestion and PCR was performed to detect apicomplexan organisms. Partial 18S rDNA amplification products were obtained from 14 ticks from four tigers, of which 13 yielded unambiguous nucleotide sequence data. Comparative sequence analysis revealed all 13 partial 18S rDNA sequences were most similar to those belonging to strains of Hepatozoon felis (>564/572 base-pair identity, >99% sequence similarity). Although this tick-borne protozoon pathogen has been detected in wild felids from many parts of the world, this is the first record from the Russian Far East.
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Vol. 52 • No. 3