Ticks, fleas and endosymbionts in the ectoparasite fauna of the black-eared opossum Dipelphis aurita in Brazil.Exp Appl Acarol 2020EA
Ticks and fleas are essential vectors of pathogens that affect humans and animals, and among their hosts, synanthropic animals such as the black-eared opossum, Didelphis aurita, play a role in public health due to their ability to move between urban centers and forested areas in Brazil. This study aimed to assess the ectoparasite fauna of D. aurita, as well as the presence of pathogens and endosymbionts in ticks and fleas. Opossums (n = 58) captured in Tomahawk livetraps were examined for ectoparasites, and their blood sampled for further analysis. Additionally, spleen samples were collected in individuals found dead. Samples were PCR screened for Rickettsia spp., Borrelia spp., Anaplasmataceae, and Babesia spp. Two tick species were morphologically identified as Ixodes loricatus 24/58 (41.4%) and Amblyomma sculptum 1/58 (1.7%). For fleas, Ctenocephalides felis was detected in 60.3% (35/58) of the animals, and Xenopsylla cheopis in 5.2% (3/58). PCR analysis detected Anaplasmataceae DNA in 34% (16/47) of pooled samples of C. felis, and in 66.7% (2/3) pooled samples of X. cheopis. Sequence analysis revealed Wolbachia pipientis symbiont in all positive samples. Tick, blood and spleen samples were all negative for the microorganisms assessed. These findings suggest that these arthropods circulate among wildlife and urban environments, which may implicate in their participation in the cycle of zoonotic pathogens among opossums, humans and companion animals.