Co-circulating microorganisms in questing Ixodes scapularis nymphs in Maryland.
ABSTRACT: Ixodes scapularis can be infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Bartonella spp., Babesia microti, and Rickettsia spp., including spotted-fever group Rickettsia. As all of these microorganisms have been reported in Maryland, the potential for these ticks to have concurrent infections exists in this region. To assess the frequency of these complex infections, 348 I. scapularis nymphs collected in 2003 were screened for these microorganisms by PCR with positives being confirmed by DNA sequencing. Borrelia burgdorferi was detected in 14.7% of nymphs. Anaplasma phagocytophilum (0.3%), Rickettsia spp. (19.5%), and an uncategorized agent (0.9%) was also detected. Dual infections were detected with B. burgdorferi and Rickettsia spp. as well as a triple infection with B. burgdorferi, Rickettsia spp., and an uncategorized agent. Infections with B. burgdorferi and Rickettsia spp. were statistically independent of one another. However, infection with B. burgdorferi and any one of these other microorganisms appears to occur more frequently than by chance alone, probably as a result of shared enzootic cycles. This study confirms that multiple microorganisms co-circulate with B. burgdorferi in I. scapularis in Maryland and demonstrates that Rickettsia spp. and B. burgdorferi circulate independently and at nearly equal frequencies, while A. phagocytophilum and other unrecognized organisms are less common.
Project description:Tick-borne diseases have doubled in the last 12?years, and their geographic distribution has spread as well. The clinical spectrum of tick-borne diseases can range from asymptomatic to fatal infections, with a disproportionate incidence in children and the elderly. In the last few years, new agents have been discovered, and genetic changes have helped in the spread of pathogens and ticks. Polymicrobial infections, mostly in Ixodes scapularis, can complicate diagnostics and augment disease severity. Amblyomma americanum ticks have expanded their range, resulting in a dynamic and complex situation, possibly fueled by climate change. To document these changes, using molecular biology strategies for pathogen detection, an assessment of 12 microbes (9 pathogens and 3 symbionts) in three species of ticks was done in Suffolk County, New York. At least one agent was detected in 63% of I. scapularis ticks Borrelia burgdorferi was the most prevalent pathogen (57% in adults; 27% in nymphs), followed by Babesia microti (14% in adults; 15% in nymphs), Anaplasma phagocytophilum (14% in adults; 2% in nymphs), Borrelia miyamotoi (3% in adults), and Powassan virus (2% in adults). Polymicrobial infections were detected in 22% of I. scapularis ticks, with coinfections of B. burgdorferi and B. microti (9%) and of B. burgdorferi and A. phagocytophilum (7%). Three Ehrlichia species were detected in 4% of A. americanum ticks. The rickettsiae constituted the largest prokaryotic biomass of all the ticks tested and included Rickettsia amblyommatis, Rickettsia buchneri, and Rickettsia montanensis The high rates of polymicrobial infection in ticks present an opportunity to study the biological interrelationships of pathogens and their vectors.IMPORTANCE Tick-borne diseases have increased in prevalence in the United States and abroad. The reasons for these increases are multifactorial, but climate change is likely to be a major factor. One of the main features of the increase is the geographic expansion of tick vectors, notably Amblyomma americanum, which has brought new pathogens to new areas. The clinical spectrum of tick-borne diseases can range from asymptomatic to fatal infections, with a disproportionate incidence in children and the elderly. In addition, new pathogens that are cotransmitted by Ixodes scapularis have been discovered and have led to difficult diagnoses and to disease severity. Of these, Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease, continues to be the most frequently transmitted pathogen. However, Babesia microti, Borrelia miyamotoi (another spirochete), Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Powassan virus are frequent cotransmitted agents. Polymicrobial infection has important consequences for the diagnosis and management of tick-borne diseases.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Free-living ungulates are hosts of ixodid ticks and reservoirs of tick-borne microorganisms in central Europe and many regions around the world. Tissue samples and engorged ticks were obtained from roe deer, red deer, fallow deer, mouflon, and wild boar hunted in deciduous forests of south-western Slovakia. DNA isolated from these samples was screened for the presence of tick-borne microorganisms by PCR-based methods. RESULTS:Ticks were found to infest all examined ungulate species. The principal infesting tick was Ixodes ricinus, identified on 90.4% of wildlife, and included all developmental stages. Larvae and nymphs of Haemaphysalis concinna were feeding on 9.6% of wildlife. Two specimens of Dermacentor reticulatus were also identified. Ungulates were positive for A. phagocytophilum and Theileria spp. Anaplasma phagocytophilum was found to infect 96.1% of cervids, 88.9% of mouflon, and 28.2% of wild boar, whereas Theileria spp. was detected only in cervids (94.6%). Importantly, a high rate of cervids (89%) showed mixed infections with both these microorganisms. In addition to A. phagocytophilum and Theileria spp., Rickettsia helvetica, R. monacensis, unidentified Rickettsia sp., Coxiella burnetii, "Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis", Borrelia burgdorferi (s.l.) and Babesia venatorum were identified in engorged I. ricinus. Furthermore, A. phagocytophilum, Babesia spp. and Theileria spp. were detected in engorged H. concinna. Analysis of 16S rRNA and groEL gene sequences revealed the presence of five and two A. phagocytophilum variants, respectively, among which sequences identified in wild boar showed identity to the sequence of the causative agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA). Phylogenetic analysis of Theileria 18S rRNA gene sequences amplified from cervids and engorged I. ricinus ticks segregated jointly with sequences of T. capreoli isolates into a moderately supported monophyletic clade. CONCLUSIONS:The findings indicate that free-living ungulates are reservoirs for A. phagocytophilum and Theileria spp. and engorged ixodid ticks attached to ungulates are good sentinels for the presence of agents of public and veterinary concern. Further analyses of the A. phagocytophilum genetic variants and Theileria species and their associations with vector ticks and free-living ungulates are required.
Project description:Ticks are important vectors of several human and animal pathogens. In this study, we estimated the prevalence of important tick-borne infections in questing ticks from an area in Southwestern France (Hautes-Pyrénées) inhabited by Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica) experiencing high tick burden. We examined adult and nymph ticks collected by the flag dragging method from 8 to 15 sites in the Pic de Bazès during the years 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. PCR assays were conducted on selected ticks for the detection of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., Babesia spp., Rickettsia spp., spotted fever group (SFG) Rickettsia and Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Randomly selected positive samples were submitted for sequence analysis. A total of 1971 questing ticks were collected including 95 males, 101 females and 1775 nymphs. All collected ticks were identified as Ixodes ricinus. Among them, 696 ticks were selected for pathogen detection and overall prevalence was 8.4% for B. burgdorferi s.l.; 0.4% for Babesia spp.; 6.1% for A. phagocytophilum; 17.6% for Rickettsia spp.; and 8.1% for SFG Rickettsia. Among the sequenced pathogens, we detected in this population of ticks the presence of Babesia sp. EU1 and Rickettsia helvetica, as well as Rickettsia monacensis for the first time in France. The detection of these pathogens in the Pic de Bazès highlights the potential infection risks for visitors to this area and the Pyrenean chamois population.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Ticks are important carriers of many different zoonotic pathogens. To date, there are many studies about ticks and tick-borne pathogens (TBP), but only a few were carried out in Bulgaria. The present study intends to detect the prevalence of tick-borne bacteria and parasites occurring at the Black Sea in Bulgaria to evaluate the zoonotic potential of the tick-borne pathogens transmitted by ticks in this area. METHODS:In total, cDNA from 1541 ticks (Dermacentor spp., Haemaphysalis spp., Hyalomma spp., Ixodes spp. and Rhipicephalus spp.) collected in Bulgaria by flagging method or from hosts was tested in pools of ten individuals each for Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia spp., Borrelia burgdorferi (s.l.), Rickettsia spp. and "Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis" via conventional and quantitative real-time PCR. Subsequently, samples from positive pools were tested individually and a randomized selection of positive PCR samples was purified, sequenced, and analyzed. RESULTS:Altogether, 23.2% of ticks were infected with at least one of the tested pathogens. The highest infection levels were noted in nymphs (32.3%) and females (27.5%). Very high prevalence was detected for Rickettsia spp. (48.3%), followed by A. phagocytophilum (6.2%), Borrelia burgdorferi (s.l.) (1.7%), Babesia spp. (0.4%) and "Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis" (0.1%). Co-infections were found in 2.5% of the tested ticks (mainly Ixodes spp.). Sequencing revealed the presence of Rickettsia monacensis, R. helvetica, and R. aeschlimannii, Babesia microti and B. caballi, and Theileria buffeli and Borrelia afzelli. CONCLUSION:This study shows very high prevalence of zoonotic Rickettsia spp. in ticks from Bulgaria and moderate to low prevalence for all other pathogens tested. One should take into account that tick bites from this area could lead to Rickettsia infection in humans and mammals.
Project description:In the north-central United States, the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) is currently known to vector seven human pathogens. These include five bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia mayonii, Borrelia miyamotoi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Ehrlichia muris eauclairensis), one protozoan (Babesia microti) and one virus (Powassan). We sought to assess the prevalence and distribution of these pathogens in host-seeking nymphs collected throughout Minnesota, a state on the northwestern edge of the tick's expanding range, where reported cases of I. scapularis-borne diseases have increased in incidence and geographic range over the past decade. Among the 1240 host-seeking I. scapularis nymphs that we screened from 64 sites, we detected all seven pathogens at varying frequencies. Borrelia burgdorferi s.s. was the most prevalent and geographically widespread, found in 25.24% of all nymphs tested. Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Babesia microti were also geographically widespread, but they were less prevalent than Bo. burgdorferi s.s. (detected in 6.29% and 4.68% of ticks, respectively). Spatial clusters of sites with high prevalence for these three pathogens were identified in the north-central region of the state. Prevalence was less than 1.29% for each of the remaining pathogens. Two or more pathogens were detected in 90 nymphs (7.26%); coinfections with Bo. burgdorferi s.s. and either A. phagocytophilum (51 nymphs, 4.11%) or Ba. microti (43 nymphs, 3.47%) were the most common combinations. The distribution and density of infected ticks mirrors the distribution of notifiable tick-borne diseases in Minnesota and provides information on the distribution and prevalence of recently described human pathogens.
Project description:There are 4 major human-biting tick species in the northeastern United States, which include: Amblyomma americanum, Amblyomma maculatum, Dermacentor variabilis, and Ixodes scapularis. The black bear is a large mammal that has been shown to be parasitized by all the aforementioned ticks. We investigated the bacterial infections in ticks collected from Louisiana black bears (Ursus americanus subspecies luteolus). Eighty-six ticks were collected from 17 black bears in Louisiana from June 2010 to March 2011. All 4 common human-biting tick species were represented. Each tick was subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting select bacterial pathogens and symbionts. Bacterial DNA was detected in 62% of ticks (n=53). Rickettsia parkeri, the causative agent of an emerging spotted fever group rickettsiosis, was identified in 66% of A. maculatum, 28% of D. variabilis, and 11% of I. scapularis. The Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, was detected in 2 I. scapularis, while one A. americanum was positive for Borrelia bissettii, a putative human pathogen. The rickettsial endosymbionts Candidatus Rickettsia andeanae, rickettsial endosymbiont of I. scapularis, and Rickettsia amblyommii were detected in their common tick hosts at 21%, 39%, and 60%, respectively. All ticks were PCR-negative for Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Ehrlichia spp., and Babesia microti. This is the first reported detection of R. parkeri in vector ticks in Louisiana; we also report the novel association of R. parkeri with I. scapularis. Detection of both R. parkeri and B. burgdorferi in their respective vectors in Louisiana demands further investigation to determine potential for human exposure to these pathogens.
Project description:During the spring in 2005 and 2006, 39,095 northward-migrating land birds were captured at 12 bird observatories in eastern Canada to investigate the role of migratory birds in northward range expansion of Lyme borreliosis, human granulocytic anaplasmosis, and their tick vector, Ixodes scapularis. The prevalence of birds carrying I. scapularis ticks (mostly nymphs) was 0.35% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.30 to 0.42), but a nested study by experienced observers suggested a more realistic infestation prevalence of 2.2% (95% CI = 1.18 to 3.73). The mean infestation intensity was 1.66 per bird. Overall, 15.4% of I. scapularis nymphs (95% CI = 10.7 to 20.9) were PCR positive for Borrelia burgdorferi, but only 8% (95% CI = 3.8 to 15.1) were positive when excluding nymphs collected at Long Point, Ontario, where B. burgdorferi is endemic. A wide range of ospC and rrs-rrl intergenic spacer alleles of B. burgdorferi were identified in infected ticks, including those associated with disseminated Lyme disease and alleles that are rare in the northeastern United States. Overall, 1.4[corrected]% (95% CI = 0.3 [corrected] to 0.41) of I. scapularis nymphs were PCR positive for Anaplasma phagocytophilum. We estimate that migratory birds disperse 50 million to 175 million I. scapularis ticks across Canada each spring, implicating migratory birds as possibly significant in I. scapularis range expansion in Canada. However, infrequent larvae and the low infection prevalence in ticks carried by the birds raise questions as to how B. burgdorferi and A. phagocytophilum become endemic in any tick populations established by bird-transported ticks.
Project description:The tick microbiota may influence the colonization of Ixodes scapularis by Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease bacterium. Using conserved and pathogen-specific primers we performed a cross-kingdom analysis of bacterial, fungal, protistan and archaeal communities of I. scapularis nymphs (N = 105) collected from southern Vermont, USA. The bacterial community was dominated by a Rickettsia and several environmental taxa commonly reported in I. scapularis, as well as the human pathogens B. burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis. With the fungal primer set we detected primarily plant- and litter-associated taxa and >18% of sequences were Malassezia, a fungal genus associated with mammalian skin. Two 18S rRNA gene primer sets, intended to target protistan communities, returned mostly Ixodes DNA as well as the wildlife pathogen Babesia odocoilei (7% of samples), a Gregarines species (14%) and a Spirurida nematode (18%). Data from pathogen-specific and conserved primers were consistent in terms of prevalence and identification. We measured B. burgdorferi presence/absence and load and found that bacterial beta diversity varied based on B. burgdorferi presence/absence. Load was weakly associated with bacterial community composition. We identified taxa associated with B. burgdorferi infection that should be evaluated for their role in vector colonization by pathogens.
Project description:Tick-borne pathogens transmitted by Ixodes scapularis Say (Acari: Ixodidae), also known as the deer tick or blacklegged tick, are increasing in incidence and geographic distribution in the United States. We examined the risk of tick-borne disease exposure in 9 national parks across six Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States and the District of Columbia in 2014 and 2015. To assess the recreational risk to park visitors, we sampled for ticks along frequently used trails and calculated the density of I. scapularis nymphs (DON) and the density of infected nymphs (DIN). We determined the nymphal infection prevalence of I. scapularis with a suite of tick-borne pathogens including Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia miyamotoi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Babesia microti. Ixodes scapularis nymphs were found in all national park units; DON ranged from 0.40 to 13.73 nymphs per 100 m2. Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, was found at all sites where I. scapularis was documented; DIN with B. burgdorferi ranged from 0.06 to 5.71 nymphs per 100 m2. Borrelia miyamotoi and A. phagocytophilum were documented at 60% and 70% of the parks, respectively, while Ba. microti occurred at just 20% of the parks. Ixodes scapularis is well established across much of the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States, and our results are generally consistent with previous studies conducted near the areas we sampled. Newly established I. scapularis populations were documented in two locations: Washington, D.C. (Rock Creek Park) and Greene County, Virginia (Shenandoah National Park). This research demonstrates the potential risk of tick-borne pathogen exposure in national parks and can be used to educate park visitors about the importance of preventative actions to minimize tick exposure.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Lyme borreliosis caused by spirochetes of the Borrelia burgdorferi (sensu lato) complex is still the most common tick-borne disease in Europe, posing a considerable threat to public health. The predominant vector in Europe is the widespread hard tick Ixodes ricinus, which also transmits the relapsing fever spirochete B. miyamotoi as well as pathogenic Rickettsiales (Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Rickettsia spp.). To assess the public health risk, a long-term monitoring of tick infection rates with the named pathogens is indispensable. METHODS:The present study is the first German 10-year follow-up monitoring of tick infections with Borrelia spp. and co-infections with Rickettsiales. Furthermore, a specific Reverse Line Blot (RLB) protocol for detection of B. miyamotoi and simultaneous differentiation of B. burgdorferi (s.l.) geno-species was established. RESULTS:Overall, 24.0% (505/2100) of ticks collected in the city of Hanover were infected with Borrelia. In detail, 35.4% (203/573) of adult ticks [38.5% females (111/288) and 32.3% males (92/285)] and 19.8% nymphs (302/1527) were infected, representing consistent infection rates over the 10-year monitoring period. Geno-species differentiation using RLB determined B. miyamotoi in 8.9% (45/505) of positive ticks. Furthermore, a significant decrease in B. afzelii and B. spielmanii infection rates from 2010 to 2015 was observed. Co-infections with Rickettsia spp. and A. phagocytophilum increased between 2010 and 2015 (7.3 vs 10.9% and 0.3 vs 1.1%, respectively). CONCLUSIONS:Long-term monitoring is an essential part of public health risk assessment to capture data on pathogen occurrence over time. Such data will reveal shifts in pathogen geno-species distribution and help to answer the question whether or not climate change influences tick-borne pathogens.