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Blood-feeding patterns of horse flies in the French Pyrenees

Baldacchino F., Gardes L., De Stordeur E., Jay-Robert P., Garros C.. 2014. Veterinary Parasitology, 199 (3-4) : p. 283-288.

DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2013.10.009

Horse flies can mechanically transmit Besnoitia besnoiti, the agent of bovine besnoitiosis. Although previously limited to enzootic areas, especially the French Pyrenees Mountains, bovine besnoitiosis is now considered a re-emerging disease in western Europe. To improve understanding of the role of horse flies as mechanical vectors, this study investigated their blood-feeding ecology in the eastern French Pyrenees, in two high-altitude summer pastures whose main domestic ungulates were cattle, and in a wildlife park with native fauna. Species-specific PCR assays were conducted to identify the sources of blood meals: wild boar, horse, cattle (or bison), sheep (or mouflon), goat, red deer, roe deer and izard (or Pyrenean chamois). In La Mouline pasture, tabanids (N = 20) fed on red deer (70%) and cattle (30%). In Mantet pasture, tabanids (N = 24) fed on cattle (52%), red deer (20%), wild boar (16%), horse (8%) and sheep (4%). In the wildlife park, Tabanus bromius (N = 32), the most abundant species collected, fed on red deer (85%), bison (9%) and wild boar (6%). Despite relatively high densities in both the pastures and in the wildlife park, small wild ungulates (izard, mouflon and roe deer) were not detected as a source of blood meals. Only two mixed blood meals were identified in two specimens of T. bromius: cattle/horse for the specimen collected in the pastures, and bison/wild boar for the specimen collected in the wildlife park. Our findings showed that tabanids display a level of opportunistic feeding behaviour, in addition to a preference for red deer, the latter being particularly true for Philipomyia aprica, the most abundant species collected in the pastures.

Mots-clés : besnoitia; comportement alimentaire; sang; préférence alimentaire; animal domestique; animal sauvage; bétail; bovin; cheval; sanglier; bison; ovin; cerf; cervus elaphus; pcr; cytochrome b; enquête; pyrénées; languedoc-roussillon; france; besnoitia besnoiti

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