Heterogeneity of Orientia tsutsugamushi genotypes in field-collected trombiculid mites from wild-caught small mammals in Thailand.
ABSTRACT: 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: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.
Project description: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:<h4>Background</h4>Scrub typhus is an endemic disease in Asia. It has been a rural disease, but indigenous urban cases have been observed in Seoul, South Korea. Urban scrub typhus may have a significant impact because of the large population.<h4>Methods</h4>Indigenous urban scrub typhus was epidemiologically identified in Seoul, the largest metropolitan city in South Korea, using national notifiable disease data from 2010 to 2013. For detailed analysis of clinical features, patients from one hospital that reported the majority of cases were selected and compared to a historic control group. Chigger mites were prospectively collected in the city using a direct chigger mite-collecting trap, and identified using both phenotypic and 18S rDNA sequencing analyses. Their infection with Orientia tsutsugamushi was confirmed by sequencing the 56-kDa antigen gene.<h4>Results</h4>Eighty-eight cases of urban scrub typhus were determined in Seoul. The possible sites of infection were mountainous areas (56.8%), city parks (20.5%), the vicinity of one's own residence (17.0%), and riversides (5.7%). Eighty-seven chigger mites were collected in Gwanak mountain, one of the suspected infection sites in southern Seoul, and seventy-six (87.4%) of them were identified as Helenicula miyagawai and eight (9.2%) as Leptotrombidium scutellare. Pooled DNA extracted from H. miyagawai mites yielded O. tsutsugamushi Boryong strain. Twenty-six patients from one hospital showed low APACHE II score (3.4 ± 2.7), low complication rate (3.8%), and no hypokalemia.<h4>Conclusions</h4>We identified the presence of indigenous urban scrub typhus in Seoul, and a subgroup of them had mild clinical features. The chigger mite H. miyagawai infected with O. tsutsugamushi within the city was found. In endemic area, urban scrub typhus needs to be considered as one of the differential febrile diseases and a target for prevention.
Project description:Orientia tsutsugamushi is an intracellular alpha-proteobacterium which resides in trombiculid mites, and is the causative agent of scrub typhus in East Asia. The genome sequence of this species has revealed an unprecedented number of repeat sequences, most notably of the genes encoding the conjugative properties of a type IV secretion system (T4SS). Although this observation is consistent with frequent intragenomic recombination, the extent of homologous recombination (gene conversion) in this species is unknown. To address this question, and to provide a protocol for the epidemiological surveillance of this important pathogen, we have developed a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme based on 7 housekeeping genes (gpsA, mdh, nrdB, nuoF, ppdK, sucD, sucB). We applied this scheme to the two published genomes, and to DNA extracted from blood taken from 84 Thai scrub typhus patients, from 20 cultured Thai patient isolates, 1 Australian patient sample, and from 3 cultured type strains. These data demonstrated that the O. tsutsugamushi population was both highly diverse [Simpson's index (95% CI) = 0.95 (0.92-0.98)], and highly recombinogenic. These results are surprising given the intracellular life-style of this species, but are broadly consistent with results obtained for Wolbachia, which is an alpha-proteobacterial reproductive parasite of arthropods. We also compared the MLST data with ompA sequence data and noted low levels of consistency and much higher discrimination by MLST. Finally, twenty-five percent of patients in this study were simultaneously infected with multiple sequence types, suggesting multiple infection caused by either multiple mite bites, or multiple strains co-existing within individual mites.
Project description:Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) is a tick-borne viral disease with a high mortality rate. Infection can also occur through close contact with an infected patient. Scrub typhus is an acute febrile illness caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, a bacterium transmitted to humans through chigger mite bites. South Korea is an endemic region of SFTS and scrub typhus. In this study, we confirmed that a patient was coinfected with SFTS virus and two (Boryong and Taguchi) genotypes of O. tsutsugamushi.
Project description:Incidence of tsutsugamushi disease (scrub typhus) caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, is steadily increasing. It is a mite-borne disease transmitted by chigger mites. In this study, the chigger mites were collected from field small mammals in Hwaseong-si (city), Gyeonggi-do (province), Korea, 2019 and 2020. The field small mammals captured were 56 Apodemus agrarius (94.9%) and 3 Crocidura lasiura (5.1%). A total of 7,531 chigger mites were collected from the captured small mammals. Using PCR test, 153 chigger mite pools were examined and 17 pools were reported positive for O. tsutsugamushi. The O. tsutsugamushi were identified to 5 strains; Jecheon strain was most prevalent, followed by Boryong strain. The other strains were OI011, Taguchi, and Shimokoshi. Collectively, these results provide essential regional information on mite-borne tsutsugamushi disease in the Hwaseong-si, and further contribute to bring awareness and rapid diagnosis for the tsutsugamushi disease.
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:To clarify the geographical distribution of scrub typhus vectors in Korea, a survey of larval trombiculid mites was conducted from 2005 to 2007 by collecting wild small mammals twice a year (spring and autumn) at 24 sites nationwide. A total of 67,325 mites representing 4 genera and 14 species were collected from 783 trapped rodents, corresponding to a chigger index (number of chigger mites per rodent) of 86.0. The predominant mite species were Leptotrombidium pallidum (52.6%), Leptotrombiduim scutellare (27.1%), Leptotrombidium palpale (8.2%), Leptotrombidium orientale (5.6%), and Neotrombicula tamiyai (1.7%). However, the proportions of L. scutellare in southern areas, including endemic provinces such as Jeollabuk-Do (34.3%), Jeollanam-Do (49.0%), and Gyeongsangnam-Do (88%), were relatively higher than in central Korean regions where L. pallidum was predominant. In autumn, the ratio of L. scutellare increased to 42% while the ratio of L. pallidum decreased. The geographical distribution map of the L. scutellare chigger index was identical to the incidence pattern of scrub typhus, whereas those of overall mites and L. pallidum showed no relationship with case incidence patterns. Distribution mapping analysis shows an identical geographical distribution of L. scutellare and epidemic incidence of scrub typhus in South Korea. L. pallidum could be another vector at all other parts of the Korean peninsula, including the eastern and northern regions that have a low level of scrub typhus incidence.
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:BACKGROUND:Scrub typhus, a febrile illness of substantial incidence and mortality, is caused by infection with the obligately intracellular bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi. It is estimated that there are more than one million cases annually transmitted by the parasitic larval stage of trombiculid mites in the Asia-Pacific region. The antigenic and genetic diversity of the multiple strains of O. tsutsugamushi hinders the advancement of laboratory diagnosis, development of long-lasting vaccine-induced protection, and interpretation of clinical infection. Despite the life-threatening severity of the illness in hundreds of thousands of cases annually, 85-93% of patients survive, often without anti-rickettsial treatment. To more completely understand the disease caused by Orientia infection, animal models which closely correlate with the clinical manifestations, target cells, organ involvement, and histopathologic lesions of human cases of scrub typhus should be employed. Previously, our laboratory has extensively characterized two relevant C57BL/6 mouse models using O. tsutsugamushi Karp strain: a route-specific intradermal model of infection and persistence and a hematogenously disseminated dose-dependent lethal model. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:To complement the lethal model, here we illustrate a sublethal model in the same mouse strain using the O. tsutsugamushi Gilliam strain, which resulted in dose-dependent severity of illness, weight loss, and systemic dissemination to endothelial cells of the microcirculation and mononuclear phagocytic cells. Histopathologic lesions included expansion of the pulmonary interstitium by inflammatory cell infiltrates and multifocal hepatic lesions with mononuclear cellular infiltrates, renal interstitial lymphohistiocytic inflammation, mild meningoencephalitis, and characteristic typhus nodules. SIGNIFICANCE:These models parallel characteristics of human cases of scrub typhus, and will be used in concert to understand differences in severity which lead to lethality or host control of the infection and to address the explanation for short duration of heterologous immunity in Orientia infection.