Besnoitia besnoiti is a re-emergent protozoan coccidian parasite of cattle in Europe. It occurs in Africa and other parts of the world; and suspected to be transmitted by Tabanid flies and ticks. Incidences of B. besnoiti cutaneous cysts have been reported in Nigeria. This investigation was aimed at establishing the prevalence of antibodies to B. besnoiti, tick infestation and haemoparasites among cattle in Northern Nigeria. A total of 400 cattle in five Northern States of Nigeria (Lat. 90 03" - 130 58" N; Long. 40 08" - 150 00" E) were examined for tick infestation during a 19 – months period between May, 2008 and November, 2009. Giemsa stained thin blood smears from the cattle were examined for haemoparasites, while sera and milk samples were tested with indirect immunofluorescent antibody technique (IFAT) for antibodies to B. besnoiti. The study revealed 321(80.3%) of the cattle seropositive for B. besnoiti, but endozoites of the parasite were not observed in any of the thin blood smears. There were A. variegatum ticks on 41 (10.3%) of the cattle examined, while 68 (17.0%) had tick-borne haemoparasites including Anaplasma marginale (7.0%), Babesia bovis (3.3%) and Theilaria mutans (6.8%). The haemoparasites were recorded in 52 (13.0%) and A. variegatum infestation occurred in 31 (7.8%) cattle positive for B. besnoiti antibodies. However, only 6 (0.7%) of all the cattle had haemoparasites, tick infestation and were seropositive for B. besnoiti. The observed prevalence of antibodies to B. besnoiti in this study was high, but the protection against the parasite and its possible transmission by ticks among cattle in Northern Nigeria require further investigation.
Besnoitia, Antibodies, Amblyomma, Haemoparasites, Cattle, Nigeria.