Detection of Babesia infection among human, goats and sheep
using microscopic and molecular methods in the city of Kuhdasht
in Lorestan Province, West of Iran
Received: 25 February 2015 / Accepted: 15 February 2017 / Published online: 28 February 2017
Ó Indian Society for Parasitology 2017
Abstract Babesiosis is a lethal protozoan disease,
responsible for the loss of livestock in Iran and in the
world. The purpose of the current study was to detect and
identify Babesia spp. infection using microscopic and
molecular methods in human, sheep and goats in Kuhdasht
region, in the Lorestan Province, west of Iran. During
2013, a total of 384 blood smear samples were collected
from 51 goats, 306 sheep suspected of Babesiosis infection
and 27 humans from Kuhdasht region. The blood samples
were ﬁxed, stained and under light microscopic examined.
DNA samples were extracted and ampliﬁed by polymerase
chain reaction of 18S-rRNA gene. PCR and the semi-nes-
ted PCR were performed to identify to Babesi spp. and to
differentiate genus of Theileria and Babesia spp. The
results of microscopic examination indicated that a total of
47 (12.2%) samples were positive for Babesia spp. infec-
tion: 38 (9.9%) belonging to sheep and 9 to goats (2.3%).
No Babesia was observed in human samples. The PCR
showed a band size of 389 bp, of Babesia spp. and the
semi-nested PCR detected B. ovis with a band size of
186 bp. By molecular method, 16 (4.2%) sheep and 2
(0.5%) goat blood samples were infected by Babesia.
Totally, 18 samples (4.7%) were observed to have Babesia,
while no infection was found in human. Thus, the results of
our study have shown sheep and goats could be vulnerable
to Babesia spp., especially B. ovis in Lorestan Province,
Iran. Therefore, studies on the status of the animal Piro-
plasmosis especially Theileriosis are recommended.
Keywords Babesia infection Á Human Á Sheep and goats Á
Microscopic and molecular methods
Babesia causes Babesiosis, a protozoan from the piro-
plasms category, a blood parasite that is transmitted by
ticks. Research has identiﬁed several species of Babesia,in
different parts of the world, that are transmitted to cattle (B.
bovis), humans (B. divergens) and sheep (B. motasi and B.
microti, transmitted by the Ixodidae family of ticks and
widely spread among rodents) (Bashiri Bod 1993; Askarian
1996). Researchers who studied cases in Portugal, Italy and
other countries also observed the Babesiosis in humans
(Centeno-Lima et al. 2003; Gabrielli et al. 2014). Three
species that are morphologically different, B. ovis, B.
motasi and B. crassa, affect sheep and goats severely;
victims are characterized by such symptoms as fever,
anemia, jaundice, emaciation, hemoglobinuria and death
(Alani and Herbert 1988; Ranjbar-Bahadori et al. 2012).
Delpy 1936 reported B. ovis in sheep for the ﬁrst time.
Raﬁei (1966) also reported the presence of B. motasi in the
northwest of Iran. Some researchers in Iran have charac-
terized the B. ovis and B. motasi as the pathogenic species
affecting sheep and goats, and the B. crassa as the non-
pathogenic one (Bashiri Bod 1993; Motavalli Haghi et al.
2013). Another Iranian researcher observed that the num-
ber of geographical locations affected by the disease
& Shirzad Gholami
Department of Parasitology, Science and Research
BranchIslamic Azad University, Boroujerd, Iran
Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Veterinary
MedicineLorestan University, Khorramabad, Iran
Health Sciences Research Center & Department Parasitology
and Mycology, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences,
J Parasit Dis (July-Sept 2017) 41(3):837–842