Abstract

Blood samples of 119 red foxes, originating from 44 hunting grounds of 3 western counties (Arad, Hunedoara, and Timiş) of Romania, have been examined for the presence of Hepatozoon canis infection using the conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of the fragment of 18S rRNA gene. Overall, 15 (12.6%) samples were found to be PCR-positive. Of the sampled hunting grounds, 29.5% (13/44) were found positive. Positive samples were recorded in all screened counties with the prevalence of 14.8% (9/61) in Arad, 9.8% (5/51) in Timiş, and 14.3% (1/7) in Hunedoara, respectively. No correlation was found (P > 0.05) between H. canis positivity and gender or territorial distribution of the infection. To confirm PCR results, 9 randomly selected amplicons were sequenced. The obtained sequences were identical to each other, confirmed the results of the conventional PCR, and showed 98–100% homology to other H. canis sequences. The results of the current survey support the role of red foxes as sylvatic reservoirs of H. canis in Romania.

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