BACKGROUND: As evidence of the infection of domestic animals by Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Anaplasma sp. 'Omatjenne' is presently becoming available, understanding the epidemiological and ecological significance of infection is important to quantify the clinical and socio-economic impact of the diseases they cause.
METHODS: The first aim of this study was to analyse the occurrence of A. phagocytophilum and Anaplasma sp. 'Omatjenne' in cattle samples collected from selected African countries using a polymerase chain reaction and restriction enzyme fragment length polymorphism. Secondly, this study was aimed at the molecular identification of Ehrlichia spp. and Anaplasma spp. infection in ruminants raised under different production systems in selected sites in central Ethiopia.
RESULTS: In total, 695 samples from cattle in six African countries were analysed. Overall, 45 positive results were obtained for Anaplasma sp. 'Omatjenne' (6.47%) and 19 for A. phagocytophilum (2.73%). Anaplasma sp. 'Omatjenne' was detected in all countries except Tanzania while A. phagocytophilum was detected only in samples from Ethiopia. The proportion of samples tested positive for Anaplasma sp. 'Omatjenne' ranged from 1.2% in Morocco to 16% in Rwanda. The occurrence of both agents is now confirmed in African cattle. For the survey in Ethiopia a semi-nested 16S rDNA polymerase chain reaction followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism was used for the identification of Ehrlichia spp. and Anaplasma spp. in blood samples. Randomly selected samples were also analysed by pCS20 polymerase chain reaction for the detection of E. ruminantium. Positive results were obtained for E. ruminantium and five species of Anaplasma including a zoonotic species. To our knowledge, this is the first report of infection of domestic ruminants with A. phagocytophilum, A. ovis and Anaplasma sp. 'Omatjenne' in Ethiopia.
CONCLUSION: The present study showed widespread occurrence of Anaplasma sp. 'Omatijenne' in African cattle and five Anaplasma species in Ethiopia.