Identification of a new Borrelia species among small mammals in areas of northern Spain where Lyme disease is endemic.
ABSTRACT: The role of small mammals as reservoir hosts for Borrelia burgdorferi was investigated in several areas where Lyme disease is endemic in northern Spain. A low rate of infestation by Ixodes ricinus nymphs was found in the small mammal populations studied that correlated with the near-absence of B. burgdorferi sensu lato in 184 animals tested and with the lack of transmission of B. burgdorferi sensu lato to I. ricinus larvae that fed on them. In contrast, questing ticks collected at the same time and in the same areas were found to carry a highly variable B. burgdorferi sensu lato repertoire (B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia garinii, Borrelia valaisiana, and Borrelia afzelii). Interestingly, the only isolate obtained from small mammals (R57, isolated from a bank vole) grouped by phylogenetic analyses with other Borrelia species but in a separate clade from the Lyme disease and relapsing fever organisms, suggesting that it is a new species. This new agent was widely distributed among small mammals, with infection rates of 8.5 to 12% by PCR. Moreover, a high seroprevalence to B. burgdorferi sensu lato was found in the animal sera, suggesting cross-reactivity between B. burgdorferi sensu lato and R57. Although small mammals do not seem to play an important role as reservoirs for B. burgdorferi sensu lato in the study area, they seem to be implicated in the maintenance of spirochetes similar to R57.
Project description:Lyme borreliosis is an emerging infectious human disease caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato complex of bacteria with reported cases increasing in many areas of Europe and North America. To understand the drivers of disease risk and the distribution of symptoms, which may improve mitigation and diagnostics, here we characterize the genetics, distribution, and environmental associations of B. burgdorferi s.l. genospecies across Scotland. In Scotland, reported Lyme borreliosis cases have increased almost 10-fold since 2000 but the distribution of B. burgdorferi s.l. is so far unstudied. Using a large survey of over 2200 Ixodes ricinus tick samples collected from birds, mammals, and vegetation across 25 sites we identified four genospecies: Borrelia afzelii (48%), Borrelia garinii (36%), Borrelia valaisiana (8%), and B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (7%), and one mixed genospecies infection. Surprisingly, 90% of the sequence types were novel and, importantly, up to 14% of samples were mixed intra-genospecies co-infections, suggesting tick co-feeding, feeding on multiple hosts, or multiple infections in hosts. B. garinii (hosted by birds) was considerably more genetically diverse than B. afzelii (hosted by small mammals), as predicted since there are more species of birds than small mammals and birds can import strains from mainland Europe. Higher proportions of samples contained B. garinii and B. valaisiana in the west, while B. afzelii and B. garinii were significantly more associated with mixed/deciduous than with coniferous woodlands. This may relate to the abundance of transmission hosts in different regions and habitats. These data on the genetic heterogeneity within and between Borrelia genospecies are a first step to understand pathogen spread and could help explain the distribution of patient symptoms, which may aid local diagnosis. Understanding the environmental associations of the pathogens is critical for rational policy making for disease risk mitigation and land management.
Project description:Invasive vertebrate species can act as hosts for endemic pathogens and may alter pathogen community composition and dynamics. For the zoonotic pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, the agent of Lyme borreliosis, recent work shows invasive rodent species can be of high epidemiological importance and may support host-specific strains. This study examined the role of gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) (n = 679), an invasive species in the United Kingdom, as B. burgdorferi sensu lato hosts. We found that gray squirrels were frequently infested with Ixodes ricinus, the main vector of B. burgdorferi sensu lato in the United Kingdom, and 11.9% were infected with B. burgdorferi sensu lato. All four genospecies that occur in the United Kingdom were detected in gray squirrels, and unexpectedly, the bird-associated genospecies Borrelia garinii was most common. The second most frequent infection was with Borrelia afzelii. Genotyping of B. garinii and B. afzelii produced no evidence for strains associated with gray squirrels. Generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) identified tick infestation and date of capture as significant factors associated with B. burgdorferi sensu lato infection in gray squirrels, with infection elevated in early summer in squirrels infested with ticks. Invasive gray squirrels appear to become infected with locally circulating strains of B. burgdorferi sensu lato, and further studies are required to determine their role in community disease dynamics. Our findings highlight the fact that the role of introduced host species in B. burgdorferi sensu lato epidemiology can be highly variable and thus difficult to predict.
Project description:Borrelia miyamotoi sensu lato, a relapsing fever Borrelia sp., is transmitted by the same ticks that transmit B. burgdorferi (the Lyme disease pathogen) and occurs in all Lyme disease-endemic areas of the United States. To determine the seroprevalence of IgG against B. miyamotoi sensu lato in the northeastern United States and assess whether serum from B. miyamotoi sensu lato-infected persons is reactive to B. burgdorferi antigens, we tested archived serum samples from area residents during 1991-2012. Of 639 samples from healthy persons, 25 were positive for B. miyamotoi sensu lato and 60 for B. burgdorferi. Samples from ?10% of B. miyamotoi sensu lato-seropositive persons without a recent history of Lyme disease were seropositive for B. burgdorferi. Our results suggest that human B. miyamotoi sensu lato infection may be common in southern New England and that B. burgdorferi antibody testing is not an effective surrogate for detecting B. miyamotoi sensu lato infection.
Project description:We report the results of a study of the prevalences of three clinically relevant Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato genospecies (Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia afzelii, and Borrelia garinii) in 1,040 questing Ixodes ticks from all regions of Latvia, where Lyme borreliosis is endemic. The prevalences of Borrelia in Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes persulcatus were 22.6 and 27.9%, respectively. Molecular typing of B. burgdorferi from infected ticks was performed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of PCR-amplified fragments of the 16S-23S (rrs-rrlA) rRNA intergenic spacer by using species-specific primers and subsequent sequencing. The dominant Borrelia species in both Ixodes species was B. afzelii. In addition, different restriction patterns of B. garinii and B. afzelii were also identified. This study demonstrates that the 16S-23S rRNA PCR-RFLP typing method is simple, sensitive, and fast and that it allows one to differentiate among B. burgdorferi species and subspecies with various degrees of pathogenic potential directly in ticks. These features are important in monitoring Lyme disease.
Project description:The presence and distribution of Ehrlichia spp. and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato was demonstrated among ixodid ticks collected in the Baltic regions of Russia, where Lyme borreliosis is endemic. A total of 3,426 Ixodes ricinus and 1,267 Ixodes persulcatus specimens were collected, and dark-field microscopy showed that 265 (11.5%) I. ricinus and 333 (26.3%) I. persulcatus ticks were positive. From these samples, 472 dark-field-positive and 159 dark-field-negative ticks were subjected to PCR and subsequent reverse line blot hybridization. Fifty-four ticks (8.6%) carried Ehrlichia species, and 4 (0.6%) carried ehrlichiae belonging to the Ehrlichia phagocytophila complex, which includes the human granulocytic ehrlichiosis agent. The E. phagocytophila complex and an Ehrlichia-like species were detected only in I. ricinus whereas Ehrlichia muris was found exclusively in I. persulcatus, indicating a possible vector-specific infection. Borrelia garinii was found predominantly in I. persulcatus, but Borrelia afzelii was evenly distributed among the two tick species. Only two I. ricinus ticks carried B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, while Borrelia valaisiana and a newly identified B. afzelii-like species were found in 1.7 and 2.5% of all ticks, respectively. Of the dark-field-positive ticks, only 64.8% yielded a Borrelia PCR product, indicating that dark-field microscopy may detect organisms other than B. burgdorferi sensu lato. These observations show that the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis may be present in ticks in the Baltic regions of Russia and that clinicians should be aware of this agent as a cause of febrile disease.
Project description:Mixed infections have important consequences for the ecology and evolution of host-parasite interactions. In vector-borne diseases, interactions between pathogens occur in both the vertebrate host and the arthropod vector. Spirochete bacteria belonging to the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato genospecies complex are transmitted by Ixodes ticks and cause Lyme borreliosis in humans. In Europe, there is a high diversity of Borrelia pathogens, and the main tick vector, Ixodes ricinus, is often infected with multiple Borrelia genospecies. In the present study, we characterized the pairwise interactions between five B. burgdorferi sensu lato genospecies in a large data set of I. ricinus ticks collected from the same field site in Switzerland. We measured two types of pairwise interactions: (i) co-occurrence, whether double infections occurred more or less often than expected, and (ii) spirochete load additivity, whether the total spirochete load in double infections was greater or less than the sum of the single infections. Mixed infections of Borrelia genospecies specialized on different vertebrate reservoir hosts occurred less frequently than expected (negative co-occurrence) and had joint spirochete loads that were lower than the additive expectation (inhibition). In contrast, mixed infections of genospecies that share the same reservoir hosts were more common than expected (positive co-occurrence) and had joint spirochete loads that were similar to or greater than the additive expectation (facilitation). Our study suggests that the vertebrate host plays an important role in structuring the community of B. burgdorferi sensu lato genospecies inside the tick vector.
Project description:Lyme disease, caused by various species of Borrelia, is transmitted by Ixodes ticks in North America and Europe. Studies have shown the genotype of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto (s.s.) or the species of B. burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.) affects the ability of the bacteria to cause local or disseminated infection in humans.We used a multilocus PCR electrospray mass spectrometry assay to determine the species and genotype Borrelia from ticks collected in New York, Connecticut, Indiana, Southern Germany, and California and characterized isolates from parts of the United States and Europe. These analyses identified 53 distinct genotypes of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto with higher resolution than ospC typing. Genotypes of other members of the B. burgdorferi sensu lato complex were also identified and genotyped including B. afzelii, B. garinii, B. lusitaniae, B. spielmanii, and B. valaisiana. While each site in North America had genotypes unique to that location, we found genotypes shared between individual regions and two genotypes found across the United States. Significant B. burgdorferi s.s. genotypic diversity was observed between North America and Europe: only 6.6% of US genotypes (3 of 45) were found in Europe and 27% of the European genotypes (3 of 11) were observed in the US. Interestingly, 39% of adult Ixodes scapularis ticks from North America were infected with more than one genotype of B. burgdorferi s.s. and 22.2% of Ixodes ricinus ticks from Germany were infected with more than one genotype of B. burgdorferi s.l.The presence of multiple Borrelia genotypes in ticks increases the probability that a person will be infected with more than one genotype of B. burgdorferi, potentially increasing the risks of disseminated Lyme disease. Our study indicates that the genotypic diversity of Borrelia in ticks in both North America and Europe is higher then previously reported and can have potential clinical consequences.
Project description:Lyme borreliosis (LB) group spirochetes, collectively known as Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, are distributed worldwide. Wild rodents are acknowledged as the most important reservoir hosts. Ixodes scapularis is the primary vector of B. burgdorferi sensu lato in the eastern United States, and in the southeastern United States, the larvae and nymphs mostly parasitize certain species of lizards. The primary aim of the present study was to determine whether wild lizards in the southeastern United States are naturally infected with Lyme borreliae. Blood samples obtained from lizards in Florida and South Carolina were tested for the presence of LB spirochetes primarily by using B. burgdorferi sensu lato-specific PCR assays that amplify portions of the flagellin (flaB), outer surface protein A (ospA), and 66-kDa protein (p66) genes. Attempts to isolate spirochetes from a small number of PCR-positive lizards failed. However, PCR amplification and sequence analysis of partial flaB, ospA, and p66 gene fragments confirmed numerous strains of B. burgdorferi sensu lato, including Borrelia andersonii, Borrelia bissettii, and B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, in blood from lizards from both states. B. burgdorferi sensu lato DNA was identified in 86 of 160 (54%) lizards representing nine species and six genera. The high infection prevalence and broad distribution of infection among different lizard species at different sites and at different times of the year suggest that LB spirochetes are established in lizards in the southeastern United States.
Project description:Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease, is transmitted by ticks. During transmission from the tick to the host, spirochetes are delivered with tick saliva, which contains the salivary protein Salp15. Salp15 has been shown to protect spirochetes against B. burgdorferi-specific antibodies. We now show that Salp15 from both Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes scapularis protects serum-sensitive isolates of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato against complement-mediated killing. I. ricinus Salp15 showed strong protective effects compared to those of I. scapularis Salp15. Deposition of terminal C5b to C9 (one molecule each of C5b, C6, C7, and C8 and one or more molecules of C9) complement complexes, part of the membrane attack complex, on the surface of B. burgdorferi was inhibited in the presence of Salp15. In the presence of normal human serum, serum-sensitive Borrelia burgdorferi requires protection against complement-mediated killing, which is provided, at least in part, by the binding to the tick salivary protein Salp15.
Project description:Since Lyme arthritis was first described in the United States, it has now been reported in many countries of Europe. However, very few strains of the causative bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, have been isolated from synovial samples. For this reason, different molecular direct typing methods were developed recently to assess which species could be involved in Lyme arthritis in Europe. We developed a simple oligonucleotide typing method with PCR fragments from the flagellin gene of B. burgdorferi sensu lato, which is able to differentiate seven different Borrelia species. Among 10 consecutive PCR-positive patients with Lyme arthritis from the northeastern France, two species were identified in synovial samples: B. burgdorferi sensu stricto in 9 cases and B. garinii in 1 case. Conversely, all B. burgdorferi sensu lato species detected in 10 consecutive PCR-positive biopsies from a second set of patients with erythema migrans from the same geographical area were identified as either B. afzelii or B. garinii (P < 0.001). These results indicate that B. burgdorferi sensu stricto is the principal but not the only Borrelia species involved in Lyme arthritis in northeastern France.