Background: Babesiosis is a socioeconomically typical tick-borne infectious disease. Babesia infections in small mammals and ticks were reported in at least five provinces in China. However, the host range and geographical distribution of this parasite in Fujian province was unclear. The aim of this work was to investigate the prevalence and genetic diversity of Babesia in Fujian province, Southeast China, between 2015 and 2020.
Methods: Blood samples of rodents were collected from 26 various types of surveillance sites accross Fujian province. Genomic DNA was extracted for screening the Babesia infection via PCR amplification based on 18S rRNA. The prevalences of Babesia were compared by the Chi-square test or Fisher exact test. Phylogenetic tree was constructed using MEGA 5.0 by gene sequence alignment. DNA samples of 316 Capra Caprinae, 85 Bos Bovine, 56 Canis lupus familiaris, 27 Lepus sinensis and 18 Sus scrofa domesticus were also collected in this survey.
Results: A total of 1123 rodents were trapped and tested. Babesia infection was confirmed in 3.83% (43/1123) of the rodents and in 1.20% (6/502) of other trapped mammals. Multivariate logistic 2 regression analysis revealed that irrigated cropland, reeds, shrub and hills were risk factors for Babesia infection. The infection rate of S.scrofa domesticus, C.lupus familiaris and C.Caprinae were determine to be 5.56%, 1.79% and 1.27%, and no infection were found in B.Bovine and L.sinensis. There was a significant difference in the prevalence of Babesia between rodents and other host animals.
Conclusions: The results indicated that there exits a broad geographical distribution and genetic diversity of Babesia in Southeast China. This study suggested that the mammals, especially wild rodents were the main natural hosts of Babesia in Fujian. Our research provided new insights on the exposure risk of Babesia in humans and animals, laying a solid foundation for the development of babesiosis prevention and control measures.