Abstract

Ticks, representing 3 species of Amblyomma, were collected from the water python (Liasis fuscus) and 3 additional reptile species in the Northern Territory, Australia, and tested for the presence of Hepatozoon sp., the most common blood parasites of snakes. In addition, blood smears were collected from 5 reptiles, including the water python, and examined for the presence of the parasite. Hepatozoon sp. DNA was detected in all tick and reptile species, with 57.7% of tick samples (n = 187) and 35.6% of blood smears (n = 35) showing evidence of infection. Phylogenetic analysis of the 18S rRNA gene demonstrated that half of the sequences obtained from positive tick samples matched closest with a Hepatozoon species previously identified in the water python population. The remaining sequences were found to be more closely related to mammalian and amphibian Hepatozoon species. This study confirms that species of Amblyomma harbor DNA of the same Hepatozoon species detected in the water pythons. The detection of an additional genotype suggests the ticks may be exposed to 2 Hepatozoon species, providing further opportunity to study multiple host–vector–parasite relationships.

You do not currently have access to this content.