Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 34333863
Link to DOI – 10.1111/tbed.14261
Transbound Emerg Dis 2022 Sep; 69(5): 2474-2498
When studying a vector-borne disease, an eco-epidemiological approach is vital for a comprehensive understanding of how the pathogen circulates amongst populations. Equine piroplasmosis (EP), a tick-borne disease caused by the protozoans Babesia caballi and Theileria equi, is endemic in the Mediterranean basin of Europe and causes both animal health and economic issues for the equine sector. With no vaccine available, defining the episystem of the disease can help to identify which components of the host-pathogen-vector-environment system to target to improve preventive measures. In this systematic literature review, we collected relevant data on the eco-epidemiology of EP in Europe. The 62 studies remaining after the selection procedure explored potential vectors, indicators of parasite circulation and putative risk factors of EP. Eight hard tick species were identified as potential vectors of one or both piroplasm species. Meta-analyses were then conducted on prevalence and seroprevalence data in equids in European countries, demonstrating an estimated seroprevalence of 30% and 8% and prevalence of 25% and 2% for T. equi and B. caballi, respectively. Finally, herd management practices and environmental risk factors analysed in studies showed no real consensus between studies, but revealed a general trend highlighting age and exposure to ticks as risk factors, and vaccination as a protective factor. Through this study, we point out that only a few studies have focused on disease management practices and even fewer have studied the effect of environmental parameters on equid infections. Further investigation in these areas is required to better characterize the eco-epidemiology of EP and risk factors associated with this disease.