Arthropod-Borne Infectious Diseases in Dogs and Cats in Kenya


World Veterinary Association for Small and Companion Animals

Principle Instigator
Prof. S.M. Githigia

Arthropod-borne pathogenic agents and their vectors are present in many African countries, and well-studied in livestock, and to a lesser extent in companion animals, notwithstanding their high potential to contribute to endemic pathogen transmission cycles and ecto-parasite lifecycles. Given the socio-economic importance of companion animals,   the African Small Companion Animal Network (AFSCAN), as part of the WSAVA Foundation, initiated a standardized multi-country surveillance study on tick and flea communities and their pathogens in sub-Saharan Africa. The study investigated the nature and prevalence of ectoparasites and arthropod-borne infectious agents in dogs and cats in six Sub-Saharan African countries.

It was a cross-sectional in urban and rural communities of Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Namibia.  A total of 100 dogs and 50 cats where sampled per each region where ectoparasites and, blood were obtained. The blood samples were initially screened for Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Borrelia and Heartworm using Snap 4Dx. Micro-parasites prevalence in blood was performed using …pcr? Ticks and fleas were identified to the genera? level…using….etc. Data was analysed using ….

Intensive modeling on the dataset of 598 dog individuals, ectoparasites from the genera Haemaphysalis, Amblyomma, Ixodes and Rhipicephalus, three flea taxa and a series of vector-borne pathogenic agents provided the following major findings:

  • Large macro-geographic variation, with most ticks found in Nigeria, lowest in Namibia, resulting in differences in pathogen prevalences.
  • Of the thirteen tick taxa, R. sanguineus was the most abundant, and more often found in urban areas. On the other hand, exophilic ticks like Haemaphysalis spp. were more often found in rural areas.
  • For R. sanguineus, housing and additional pets in the house positively correlated with tick loads.
  • Ectoparasite occurrence was shown to be connected to endoparasiticide but not ectoparasiticed use

The potential drivers for these associations and the importance of the findings are discussed in a broader context.