PiroGoTick: a national participatory scientific research project on equine piroplasmosis and its vectors

Piroplasmosis of Equidae in France: inventory and seasonal variation of equine tick species - genetic diversity of the two responsible agents, Theileria equi and Babesia caballi.

Equine piroplasmosis, endemic in France, poses constraints to the export of horses to free countries. Two blood protozoa transmitted by ticks are the cause: Babesia caballi and Theileria equi. Data on these agents and their vectors in France are limited.

Two main components of the project: Vectors and Protozoa


1- Make an inventory of tick species collected on equidae in France, and specify their seasonal dynamics.

In order to collect ticks from all over France with monitoring over time, the project uses participatory science. Horse owners and lovers are invited to send ticks they have collected from their horses. They will be informed of the project by their veterinarians, through the press, flyers, mailings. The recruitment of 200 owners throughout France will allow the monitoring of so-called sentinel horses on which ticks will be collected every week for 2 years.

An inventory and a cartography of the ticks present on Equidae will be accessible online for the participants who will be able to find the identification of their tick anonymously on the dedicated website. Seasonal dynamics will also be available online.

All the data of the project should be available via interactive maps accessible on a dedicated website, and published at the end of the project and after valorisation, in the form of open data.

2- Determining the vectorial competence of these species in natural conditions of infection and transmission

Vectorial competence will be analysed by searching for Protozoa in isolated tick organs (salivary glands for transmission to the host and ovaries for transmission to tick progeny).

The Protozoa

1- Improve knowledge on the prevalence of both parasites in asymptomatic horses.

The prevalence of piroplasmosis will be evaluated on asymptomatic horses received in equine consultation in two Veterinary Schools, in Nantes (Oniris) and Lyon (VetAgro Sup), and on sentinel horses from all over France. Each owner will fill in a questionnaire in order to evaluate the risks, linked to the horse's living environment, of contracting piroplasmosis.

2- Analyze the genetic diversity of the two Protozoa.

The analysis will be carried out on positive samples from asymptomatic (above) and symptomatic horses (samples from the RESPE Piro-like subnetwork). Several molecular markers will be used: so-called neutral (genomic, mitochondrial, apicoplast) and non-neutral (rap-1, EMA-1...) markers used for serological and/or molecular diagnostic purposes. The genetic diversity observed in France will be compared with that of samples collected worldwide via collaborations.

The performance of the diagnostic tests will be evaluated with regard to this genetic diversity (mainly false negatives).

Period 2020-2025

>> You can join the project at any time and become a partner. <<

Participants and partners on 1/05/2020:






See also

Project link : http://www.pirogotick.fr

More information (coming soon) : 

  • Call for participants
  • Flyer
  • Equine tick report form
  • Pirosentinel application form

Modification date : 24 January 2024 | Publication date : 13 May 2020 | Redactor : AC