In South American countries, trypanosomiasis as a result of Trypanosoma evansi and Trypanosoma vivax infections causes significant economic losses in livestock. The objectives of this study were to characterize the epidemiology of bovine trypanosomiasis in South America and to draw a comparison between South American and Asian T. evansi isolates based on the polymorphisms in their transferrin receptor encoding gene 6. We assessed the prevalence rates of T. evansi and T. vivax infections in cattle in different regions of Peru and Bolivia using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and found that, in Lima and Pucallpa in the Republic of Peru, T. evansi infection rates were 5.8% (6/104) and 2.5% (5/195), respectively, while in Santa Cruz, Republic of Bolivia, the infection rate for T. evansi was 11.5% (59/510). The prevalence rates of T. vivax in Lima and Santa Cruz were 3.8% (4/104) and 0.9% (5/510), respectively. In T. evansi, uptake of host transferrin is mediated by a receptor derived from the two expression site-associated genes 6 and 7 (ESAG6 and ESAG7). We previously showed that the ESAG6 depicts genetic diversity among different isolates of T. evansi in Asia. In this study, we cloned and sequenced the ESAG6 genes from T. evansi isolates from South America, and found, in addition to some of the previously observed variants, 20 novel variants of ESAG6 genes which could be categorized into three new clades among the various isolates. To conclude, the results obtained in this study suggest that T. evansi isolates from South America are more diverse than the Asian isolates
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