Isolation and characterization of Orientia tsutsugamushi from rodents captured following a scrub typhus outbreak at a military training base, Bothong district, Chonburi province, central Thailand.
ABSTRACT: Orientia tsutsugamushi, an obligate intracellular Gram-negative bacterium, is the causative agent of scrub typhus, a vector-borne disease transmitted by infected chiggers (trombiculid mite larvae). In 2002, an outbreak of scrub typhus occurred among Royal Thai Army troops during the annual field training at a military base in Bothong district, Chonburi province, central Thailand. This report describes the outbreak investigation including its transmission cycle. Results showed that 33.9% of 174 trained troops had scrub typhus-like signs and symptoms and 9.8% of those were positive for O. tsutsugamushi-specific antibodies by indirect fluorescence antibody assay. One hundred thirty-five rodents were captured from this training area, 43% of them had antibodies against O. tsutsugamushi. Six new O. tsutsugamushi isolates were obtained from captured rodent tissues and successfully established in cell culture. Phylogenetic studies showed that these six isolates were either unique or related to a native genotype of previously described isolates from Thailand.
Project description:Trombiculid mites are the vectors of scrub typhus, with infected larval mites (chiggers) transmitting the causative agent, Orientia tsutsugamushi, during feeding. Co-existence of multiple O. tsutsugamushi strains within infected mites has previously been reported in naturally infected, laboratory-reared mite lines using molecular methods to characterize the 56-kDa type-specific antigen (TSA) gene. In the current study, more advanced next-generation sequencing technology was used to reveal the heterogeneity of O. tsutsugamushi genotypes in field-collected trombiculid mites from rodents and small mammals in scrub typhus-endemic areas of Thailand. Twenty-eight trombiculid mites collected from 10 small mammals were positive for O. tsutsugamushi, corresponding to a prevalence rate of 0.7% within the mite population. Twenty-four of the infected mites were Leptotrombidium spp., indicating that this genus is the main vector for O. tsutsugamushi transmission in Thailand. In addition, O. tsutsugamushi was detected in the mite genera Ascoschoengastia, Blankaartia, Gahrliepia, and Lorillatum. Of the 10 infested small animal hosts, six had 2-10 infected mites feeding at the time of collection. Deep sequencing was used to characterize mixed infections (two to three O. tsutsugamushi genotypes within an individual mite), and 5 of the 28 infected mites (17.9%) contained mixed infections. Additionally, 56-kDa TSA gene sequence analysis revealed identical bacterial genotypes among co-feeding mites with single or mixed infections. These results suggest that co-feeding transmission may occur during the feeding process, and could explain the occurrence of mixed infections in individual mites, as well as the recovery of multiple infected mites from the same host. This study also revealed highly diverse within-host O. tsutsugamushi genotypes. The occurrence of multiple O. tsutsugamushi genotypes within individual mites has important implications, and could provide a mechanism for pathogen evolution/diversification in the mite vector.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Scrub typhus is endemic to a 13,000,000-km² area of the Asia-Pacific region, and causes an annual incidence of 1 million people. The mortality rate of scrub typhus ranges from 6.1% to 25% in Southeast Asia. Natural infection of Orientia tsutsugamushi has been identified in domestic rodents in Shandong Province. However, infestation of chiggers and ticks on the domestic rodents and prevalence and genotypes of O. tsutsugamushi in these Acarina remain unclear. METHODS: During September 2010 to March 2012, 3134 chiggers and 89 ticks were collected from domestic rodents captured in three counties of Shandong Province. We amplified and sequenced the 56-kDa type-specific antigen gene of O. tsutsugamushi from DNA samples of these Acarina and designated to genotype according to sequence analysis. RESULTS: Overall, the infestation rate of chiggers on domestic rodents was 17.0%, and the chigger index was 5.38. The infestation rate of ticks on rodents was 3.1%. Natural infection of O. tsutsugamushi was found in Leptotrombidium taishanicum, L. linhuaikongense, L. intermedium, L. scutellare, L. palpale, and Ixodes spp., the minimum positive rates of which were 5.9%, 3.2%, 1.2%, 0.8%, 0.8%, and 2.2%, respectively. Kawasaki-like genotypes were predominant in chiggers and ticks on domestic rodents, which were detected from L. taishanicum, L. intermedium, L. scutellare, L. palpale, and Ixodes spp. Shimokoshi-like genotype was detected from L. palpale. CONCLUSIONS: In the present study we investigated the infestation of chiggers and ticks on domestic rodents in Shandong Province, and identified the prevalence and genotypes of O. tsutsugamushi in the Acarina. Infestation of vector chiggers in domestic rodents, prevalence of O. tsutsugamushi in infested chiggers, and high nucleotide homologies among the O. tsutsugamushi sequences from the Acarina, their animal hosts and scrub typhus patients, implied that domestic rodents may play an important role in the transmission of scrub typhus in Shandong, China. Further studies are needed to verify the vector significance of chiggers and ticks that tested positive for O. tsutsugamushi, and to assess the risk of human exposure to chiggers and ticks on domestic rodents.
Project description:Scrub typhus is a lethal infectious disease vectored by larval trombiculid mites (i.e. chiggers) infected with Orientia tsutsugamushi (OT) and recent decades have witnessed an emergence of scrub typhus in several countries. Identification of chigger species and their vertebrate hosts is fundamental for the assessment of human risks to scrub typhus under environmental changes, but intensive and extensive survey of chiggers and their hosts is still lacking in Taiwan.Chiggers were collected from shrews and rodents in nine counties of Taiwan and were assayed for OT infections with nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR products were further sequenced to reveal probable OT strains. Rodents were assessed for OT exposure by immunofluorescent antibody assay. Lastly, incidence rate of scrub typhus in each county was associated with loads and prevalence of chigger infestations, seropositivity rate in rodents, and OT positivity rate in chiggers.Rattus losea was the most abundant (48.7% of 1,285 individuals) and widespread (occurred in nine counties) small mammal species and hosted the majority of chiggers (76.4% of 128,520 chiggers). Leptotrombidium deliense was the most common (64.9% of all identified chiggers) and widespread (occurred in seven counties) chigger species but was replaced by Leptotrombidium pallidum or Leptotrombidium scutellare during the cold seasons in two counties (Matsu and Kinmen) where winter temperatures were lower than other study sites. Seropositivity rate for OT exposure in 876 assayed rodents was 43.0% and OT positivity rate in 347 pools of chiggers was 55.9%, with 15 OT strains identified in the 107 successfully sequenced samples. Incidence rate of scrub typhus was positively correlated with chigger loads, prevalence of chigger infestations, seropositivity rate but not OT positivity rate in chiggers.Our study reveals R. losea as the primary host for chiggers and there exists a geographical and seasonal variation in chigger species in Taiwan. It also emphasizes the importance of recognition of chigger vectors and their vertebrate hosts for a better prediction of human risks to scrub typhus under rapid environmental changes.
Project description:Investigation of a scrub typhus outbreak in Thailand during September 2013 found that 9.1% of Thai soldiers and 11.1% of residents living in areas surrounding training sites had antibodies against the causative agent, Orientia tsutsugamushi. Sequence analysis of O. tsutsugamushi from rodents and chiggers identified 7 genogroups and 3 genotypes.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Scrub typhus, caused by a bacterial pathogen (Orientia spp.), is a potentially life-threatening febrile illness widely distributed in the Asia-Pacific region and is emerging elsewhere. The infection is transmitted by the larval stage of trombiculid mites ("chiggers") that often exhibit low host specificity. Here, we present an analysis of chigger ecology for 38 species sampled from 11 provinces of Thailand and microbiomes for eight widespread species.<h4>Results</h4>In total, >?16,000 individual chiggers were collected from 1574 small mammal specimens belonging to 18 species across four horizontally-stratified habitat types. Chigger species richness was positively associated with higher latitudes, dry seasonal conditions, and host maturity; but negatively associated with increased human land use. Human scrub typhus incidence was found to be positively correlated with chigger species richness. The bacterial microbiome of chiggers was highly diverse, with Sphingobium, Mycobacterium, Neisseriaceae and various Bacillales representing the most abundant taxa. Only Leptotrombidium deliense was found to be infected with Orientia and another potential pathogen, Borrelia spp., was frequently detected in pools of this species. ?-diversity, but not ?-diversity, was significantly different between chigger species and geographic regions, although not between habitat types.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our study identified several key environmental and host-derived correlates of chigger species richness across Thailand, which in turn impacted on human scrub typhus incidence. Moreover, this first extensive field survey of the chigger microbiome revealed species- and province-level variation in microbial ?-diversity across the country, providing a framework for future studies on interactions between pathogens and other symbionts in these understudied vectors.
Project description:Scrub typhus is a febrile disease caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, transmitted by larval stage Trombiculid mites (chiggers), whose primary hosts are small mammals. The phylogenomics of O. tsutsugamushi in chiggers, small mammals and humans remains poorly understood. To combat the limitations imposed by the low relative quantities of pathogen DNA in typical O. tsutsugamushi clinical and ecological samples, along with the technical, safety and cost limitations of cell culture, a novel probe-based target enrichment sequencing protocol was developed. The method was designed to capture variation among conserved genes and facilitate phylogenomic analysis at the scale of population samples. A whole-genome amplification step was incorporated to enhance the efficiency of sequencing by reducing duplication rates. This resulted in on-target capture rates of up to 93% for a diverse set of human, chigger, and rodent samples, with the greatest success rate in samples with real-time PCR C<sub>t</sub> values below 35. Analysis of the best-performing samples revealed phylogeographic clustering at local, provincial and international scales. Applying the methodology to a comprehensive set of samples could yield a more complete understanding of the ecology, genomic evolution and population structure of O. tsutsugamushi and other similarly challenging organisms, with potential benefits in the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines.
Project description:Scrub typhus, caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, is an important and neglected vector-borne zoonotic disease with an expanding known distribution. The ecology of the disease is complex and poorly understood, impairing discussion of public health interventions. To highlight what we know and the themes of our ignorance, we conducted a systematic review of all studies investigating the pathogen in vectors and non-human hosts. A total of 276 articles in 7 languages were included, with 793 study sites across 30 countries. There was no time restriction for article inclusion, with the oldest published in 1924. Seventy-six potential vector species and 234 vertebrate host species were tested, accounting for over one million trombiculid mites ('chiggers') and 83,000 vertebrates. The proportion of O. tsutsugamushi positivity was recorded for different categories of laboratory test and host species. Vector and host collection sites were geocoded and mapped. Ecological data associated with these sites were summarised. A further 145 articles encompassing general themes of scrub typhus ecology were reviewed. These topics range from the life-cycle to transmission, habitats, seasonality and human risks. Important gaps in our understanding are highlighted together with possible tools to begin to unravel these. Many of the data reported are highly variable and inconsistent and minimum data reporting standards are proposed. With more recent reports of human Orientia sp. infection in the Middle East and South America and enormous advances in research technology over recent decades, this comprehensive review provides a detailed summary of work investigating this pathogen in vectors and non-human hosts and updates current understanding of the complex ecology of scrub typhus. A better understanding of scrub typhus ecology has important relevance to ongoing research into improving diagnostics, developing vaccines and identifying useful public health interventions to reduce the burden of the disease.
Project description:Scrub typhus, caused by antigenically disparate isolates of Orientia tsutsugamushi, is a widely distributed mite-borne human disease in the Asia Pacific region. Information regarding the heterogeneity of the immunodominant 56-kDa type-specific antigen (TSA) gene is crucial for the design and evaluation of scrub typhus-specific diagnostic assays and vaccines. Using indirect immunofluorescence assays (IFA) and PCR assays, O. tsutsugamushi was detected samples from rodents and patients with fever of unknown origin obtained from six provinces of Thailand during 2004 to 2007. Sequences were determined for a fragment of the 56-kDa TSA gene, and the relationship between these sequences and those previously determined were assessed. The phylogenetic analyses of partial 56-kDa TSA gene sequences demonstrated wide diversity and distribution of O. tsutsugamushi genotypes in Thailand. Furthermore, the genetic diversity grouped the scrub typhus agents into two commonly and five infrequently found genotypes within six provinces of Thailand. The two most commonly found genotypes of O. tsutsugamushi described in this study do not associate with the prototype strains that are widely used for the design and evaluation of diagnostic assays and vaccine candidates. Thus, these new genotypes should be considered for future scrub typhus assay and vaccine development.
Project description:Orientia tsutsugamushi is the etiological agent of scrub typhus, a mite-borne, febrile illness that occurs in the Asia-Pacific region. We conducted strain characterization of O. tsutsugamushi isolates from chiggers obtained from rodents based the nucleotide sequence of the 56-kDa outer membrane protein gene. With the use of PCR, a total of 68 DNA sequences of 56-kDa antigen genes were amplified. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that there were at least six definable clusters among the 68 isolates: 37% Karp-related strains (25/68), 27% TA763 strains (18/68), 12% JG-related strains (8/68), 19% Kato-related strains (13/68), 4% divergent strains (3/68), and 1% representing a Gilliam prototype strain (1/68). Overall, the O. tsutsugamushi genotypes exhibited a high degree of diversity, similar to that seen in strains from the rest of the areas where scrub typhus is endemic. Moreover, the 56-kDa protein sequence similarity between O. tsutsugamushi isolates from mites and those from human patients (H. Y. Lu et al., Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 83:658-663, 2010) were striking, thus highlighting potential risk factors for this emerging zoonotic disease.
Project description:Scrub typhus develops after the individual is bitten by a trombiculid mite infected with <i>Orientia tsutsugamushi</i>. Since it has been reported that pneumonia is frequently observed in patients with scrub typhus, we investigated whether intranasal (i.n.) vaccination with the outer membrane protein of <i>O. tsutsugamushi</i> (OMPOT) would induce a protective immunity against <i>O. tsutsugamushi</i> infection. It was particular interest that when mice were infected with <i>O. tsutsugamushi</i>, the bacteria disseminated into the lungs, causing pneumonia. The i.n. vaccination with OMPOT induced IgG responses in serum and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid. The anti-<i>O. tsutsugamushi</i> IgA Abs in BAL fluid after the vaccination showed a high correlation of the protection against <i>O. tsutsugamushi</i>. The vaccination induced strong Ag-specific Th1 and Th17 responses in the both spleen and lungs. In conclusion, the current study demonstrated that i.n. vaccination with OMPOT elicited protective immunity against scrub typhus in mouse with <i>O. tsutsugamushi</i> infection causing subsequent pneumonia.