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Keywords:

  • Acomys dimidiatus;
  • haemoparasites;
  • Cryptosporidium;
  • Giardia;
  • lice;
  • fleas

Abstract

Haemoparasite infections and infestations with potential arthropod vectors were assessed in spiny mice Acomys dimidiatus from four wadis in the arid montane region of the southern Sinai in Egypt in late summer 2000. Five taxa of haemoparasites (Haemobartonella spp. 80%, Hepatozoon sp. 20.6%, Trypanosoma acomys 17.5%, Bartonella spp. 2.5% and Babesia sp. 1.9%) were recorded. Additionally, infections with two intestinal protozoa, Cryptosporidium cf. parvum and Giardia sp., were quantified, both with similar prevalence (17.0 and 17.6%, respectively). 17.9% of mice carried fleas (Parapulex chephrensis and Xenopsylla dipodilli) and 32.1% had lice (Polyplax oxyrrhyncha and Polyplax brachyrrhycha combined). Marked differences in the prevalence and abundance of infections were detected between the four wadis, particularly with respect to T. acomys, Hepatozoon sp. and fleas, which were largely aggregated in just two of the four sites (Wadis Gharaba and Tlah). In contrast, the intestinal protozoa were more common, and abundance was higher, in Wadi El Arbaein. Intrinsic factors also contributed to a variation in prevalence, with strong age-dependent increases in the prevalence and abundance of Hepatozoon sp., higher mean species richness, prevalence of Cr. cf. parvum, and abundance of Giardia sp. and Hepatozoon sp. in female mice. Haemobartonella spp. showed an age-dependent reduction in abundance and higher abundance among male mice. A weak association was found between the prevalence of T. acomys and its putative flea vector. The single extrinsic factor in the study, site of capture, was more important than the intrinsic factors in explaining variation in the prevalence and abundance of haemoparasites, intestinal protozoa and arthropod vectors. In the high mountains of southern Sinai, the parasite fauna of spiny mice is distinct in each wadi, and hence we expect the parasites to exert spatially different co-evolutionary pressures on their hosts, with a resultant variation in host life histories.