Molecular detection of vector-borne bacteria in bat ticks (Acari: Ixodidae, Argasidae) from eight countries of the Old and New Worlds.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Despite the increasingly recognized eco-epidemiological significance of bats, data from molecular analyses of vector-borne bacteria in bat ectoparasites are lacking from several regions of the Old and New Worlds. METHODS:During this study, six species of ticks (630 specimens) were collected from bats in Hungary, Romania, Italy, Kenya, South Africa, China, Vietnam and Mexico. DNA was extracted from these ticks and analyzed for vector-borne bacteria with real-time PCRs (screening), as well as conventional PCRs and sequencing (for pathogen identification), based on the amplification of various genetic markers. RESULTS:In the screening assays, Rickettsia DNA was only detected in bat soft ticks, whereas Anaplasma phagocytophilum and haemoplasma DNA were present exclusively in hard ticks. Bartonella DNA was significantly more frequently amplified from hard ticks than from soft ticks of bats. In addition to Rickettsia helvetica detected by a species-specific PCR, sequencing identified four Rickettsia species in soft ticks, including a Rickettsia africae-like genotype (in association with a bat species, which is not known to migrate to Africa), three haemotropic Mycoplasma genotypes in Ixodes simplex, and Bartonella genotypes in I. ariadnae and I. vespertilionis. CONCLUSIONS:Rickettsiae (from both the spotted fever and the R. felis groups) appear to be associated with soft rather than hard ticks of bats, as opposed to bartonellae. Two tick-borne zoonotic pathogens (R. helvetica and A. phagocytophilum) have been detected for the first time in bat ticks. The present findings add Asia (China) to the geographical range of R. lusitaniae, as well as indicate the occurrence of R. hoogstraalii in South Africa. This is also the first molecular evidence for the autochthonous occurrence of a R. africae-like genotype in Europe. Bat haemoplasmas, which are closely related to haemoplasmas previously identified in bats in Spain and to "Candidatus Mycoplasma haemohominis", are reported here for the first time from Central Europe and from any bat tick.
Project description:A total of 167 ticks collected from humans in Istanbul (Turkey) in 2006 were screened for Rickettsia species, and nested PCRs targeting gltA and ompA rickettsial fragment genes were carried out. Rickettsia monacensis (51), R. aeschlimannii (8), R. conorii subsp. conorii (3), R. helvetica (2), R. raoultii (1), R. africae (1), R. felis (1), and other Rickettsia spp. (2), were detected. To our knowledge, these Rickettsia species (except R. conorii) had never been reported in ticks removed from humans in Turkey. The presence of R. africae also had not been previously described, either in Hyalomma ticks or in any European tick species. In addition, R. aeschlimannii and R. felis had not been found associated with Rhipicephalus bursa specimens. The presence of human pathogenic Rickettsia in ticks removed from humans provides information about the risk of tick-borne rickettsioses in Turkey.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Increasing molecular evidence supports that bats and/or their ectoparasites may harbor vector-borne bacteria, such as bartonellae and borreliae. However, the simultaneous occurrence of rickettsiae in bats and bat ticks has been poorly studied. METHODS:In this study, 54 bat carcasses and their infesting soft ticks (n = 67) were collected in Shihezi City, northwestern China. The heart, liver, spleen, lung, kidney, small intestine and large intestine of bats were dissected, followed by DNA extraction. Soft ticks were identified both morphologically and molecularly. All samples were examined for the presence of rickettsiae by amplifying four genetic markers (17-kDa, gltA, ompA and ompB). RESULTS:All bats were identified as Pipistrellus pipistrellus, and their ticks as Argas vespertilionis. Molecular analyses showed that DNA of Rickettsia parkeri, R. lusitaniae, R. slovaca and R. raoultii was present in bat organs/tissues. In addition, nine of the 67 bat soft ticks (13.43%) were positive for R. raoultii (n = 5) and R. rickettsii (n = 4). In the phylogenetic analysis, these bat-associated rickettsiae clustered together with conspecific sequences reported from other host and tick species, confirming the above results. CONCLUSIONS:To the best of our knowledge, DNA of R. parkeri, R. slovaca and R. raoultii was detected for the first time in bat organs/tissues. This is also the first molecular evidence for the presence of R. raoultii and R. rickettsii in bat ticks. To our knowledge, R. parkeri was not known to occur in Asia. Our results highlight the need to assess rickettsial agents in a broader range of bat species and associated tick species.
Project description:A total of 491 Ixodes vespertilionis and 8 Ixodes ricinus collected from bats and cave walls in southern Poland between 2010 and 2012 were examined by the polymerase chain reaction for tick-transmitted pathogens. PCR analysis for Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., Rickettsia spp., and Anaplasma phagocytophilum yielded negative results for all I. vespertilionis. DNA of Rickettsia helvetica was detected in three specimens of I. ricinus attached to Rhinolophus hipposideros or Myotis myotis, while Borrelia garinii was found in one tick parasitizing Myotis daubentonii. These pathogens were recorded for the first time in hard ticks that parasitized bats.
Project description:Tick-borne rickettsioses are caused by obligate intracellular bacteria belonging to the spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsiae. Although Spotted Fever is prevalent in the Middle East, no reports for the presence of tick-borne pathogens are available or any studies on the epidemiology of this disease in the West Bank. We aimed to identify the circulating hard tick vectors and genetically characterize SFG Rickettsia species in ixodid ticks from the West Bank-Palestinian territories.A total of 1,123 ixodid ticks belonging to eight species (Haemaphysalis parva, Haemaphysalis adleri, Rhipicephalus turanicus, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Rhipicephalus bursa, Hyalomma dromedarii, Hyalomma aegyptium and Hyalomma impeltatum) were collected from goats, sheep, camels, dogs, a wolf, a horse and a tortoise in different localities throughout the West Bank during the period of January-April, 2014. A total of 867 ticks were screened for the presence of rickettsiae by PCR targeting a partial sequence of the ompA gene followed by sequence analysis. Two additional genes, 17 kDa and 16SrRNA were also targeted for further characterization of the detected Rickettsia species. Rickettsial DNA was detected in 148 out of the 867 (17%) tested ticks. The infection rates in Rh. turanicus, Rh. sanguineus, H. adleri, H. parva, H. dromedarii, and H. impeltatum ticks were 41.7, 11.6, 16.7, 16.2, 11.8 and 20%, respectively. None of the ticks, belonging to the species Rh. bursa and H. aegyptium, were infected. Four SFG rickettsiae were identified: Rickettsia massiliae, Rickettsia africae, Candidatus Rickettsia barbariae and Candidatus Rickettsia goldwasserii.The results of this study demonstrate the geographic distribution of SFG rickettsiae and clearly indicate the presence of at least four of them in collected ticks. Palestinian clinicians should be aware of emerging tick-borne diseases in the West Bank, particularly infections due to R. massiliae and R. africae.
Project description:Rickettsia helvetica, a tick-borne member of the spotted-fever-group rickettsiae, is a suspected pathogen in humans; however, its role in animals is unknown. The aims of this study were to establish a R. helvetica-specific real-time TaqMan PCR assay and apply it to the analysis of tick vectors (to determine potential exposure risk) and blood samples from Canidae and humans (to determine prevalence of infection). The newly designed 23S rRNA gene assay for R. helvetica was more sensitive than a published citrate synthase gene (gltA) assay for several rickettsiae. Blood samples from 884 dogs, 58 foxes, and 214 human patients and 2,073 ticks (Ixodes spp.) collected from either vegetation or animals were analyzed. Although the maximal likelihood estimate of prevalence was 12% in unfed ticks and 36% in ticks collected from animals, none of the 1,156 blood samples tested PCR positive. Ticks from cats were more frequently PCR positive than ticks from dogs. Sequencing of the 23S rRNA and/or the gltA gene of 17 tick pools confirmed the presence of R. helvetica. Additionally, Rickettsia monacensis, which has not been previously found in Switzerland, was identified. In conclusion, R. helvetica was frequently detected in the tick population but not in blood samples. Nevertheless, due to the broad host range of Ixodes ticks and the high rate of infestation with this agent (i.e., R. helvetica was 13 times more frequent in unfed ticks than the tick-borne encephalitis virus), many mammals may be exposed to R. helvetica. The PCR assay described here represents an important tool for studying this topic.
Project description:Tick-borne spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsioses are emerging human diseases caused by obligate intracellular Gram-negative bacteria of the genus Rickettsia. Despite being important causes of systemic febrile illnesses in travelers returning from sub-Saharan Africa, little is known about the reservoir hosts of these pathogens. We conducted surveys for rickettsiae in domestic animals and ticks in a rural setting in western Kenya. Of the 100 serum specimens tested from each species of domestic ruminant 43% of goats, 23% of sheep, and 1% of cattle had immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to the SFG rickettsiae. None of these sera were positive for IgG against typhus group rickettsiae. We detected Rickettsia africae-genotype DNA in 92.6% of adult Amblyomma variegatum ticks collected from domestic ruminants, but found no evidence of the pathogen in blood specimens from cattle, goats, or sheep. Sequencing of a subset of 21 rickettsia-positive ticks revealed R. africae variants in 95.2% (20/21) of ticks tested. Our findings show a high prevalence of R. africae variants in A. variegatum ticks in western Kenya, which may represent a low disease risk for humans. This may provide a possible explanation for the lack of African tick-bite fever cases among febrile patients in Kenya.
Project description:A variety of human diseases transmitted by arthropod vectors, including ticks, are emerging around the globe. Birds are known to be hosts of ticks and can disperse exotic ticks and tick-borne pathogens. In Taiwan, previous studies have focused predominantly on mammals, leaving the role of birds in the maintenance of ticks and dissemination of tick-borne pathogens undetermined.Ticks were collected opportunistically when birds were studied from 1995 to 2013. Furthermore, to improve knowledge on the prevalence and mean load of tick infestation on birds in Taiwan, ticks were thoroughly searched for when birds were mist-netted at seven sites between September 2014 and April 2016 in eastern Taiwan. Ticks were identified based on both morphological and molecular information and were screened for potential tick-borne pathogens, including the genera Anaplasma, Babesia, Borrelia, Ehrlichia and Rickettsia. Finally, a list of hard tick species collected from birds in Taiwan was compiled based on past work and the current study.Nineteen ticks (all larvae) were recovered from four of the 3096 unique mist-netted bird individuals, yielding a mean load of 0.006 ticks/individual and an overall prevalence of 0.13%. A total of 139 ticks from birds, comprising 48 larvae, 35 nymphs, 55 adults and one individual of unknown life stage, were collected from 1995 to 2016, and 11 species of four genera were identified, including three newly recorded species (Haemaphysalis wellingtoni, Ixodes columnae and Ixodes turdus). A total of eight tick-borne pathogens were detected, with five species (Borrelia turdi, Anaplasma sp. clone BJ01, Ehrlichia sp. BL157-9, Rickettsia helvetica and Rickettsia monacensis) not previously isolated in Taiwan. Overall, 16 tick species of five genera have been recorded feeding on birds, including nine species first discovered in this study.Our study demonstrates the paucity of information on ticks of birds and emphasizes the need for more research on ticks of birds in Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Moreover, some newly recorded ticks and tick-borne pathogens were found only on migratory birds, demonstrating the necessity of further surveillance on these highly mobile species.
Project description:We amplified gene sequences from Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia garinii, B. valaisiana, B. turdi, Rickettsia monacensis, R. helvetica, R. sibirica sibirica, and Rickettsia spp. (including Candidatus Rickettsia vini) in ticks removed from birds in Spain. The findings support the role of passerine birds as possible dispersers of these tick-borne pathogens.
Project description:Argas vespertilionis, an argasid tick associated with bats and bat habitats in Europe, Africa, and Asia has been reported to bite humans; however, studies investigating the presence of vector-borne pathogens in these ticks are lacking. Using molecular tools, we tested 5 A. vespertilionis ticks collected in 2010 from the floor of a bat-infested attic in southwestern France that had been converted into bedrooms. Rickettsia sp. AvBat, a new genotype of spotted fever group rickettsiae, was detected and cultivated from 3 of the 5 ticks. A new species of the Ehrlichia canis group, Ehrlichia sp. AvBat, was also detected in 3 ticks. Four ticks were infected with Borrelia sp. CPB1, a relapsing fever agent of the Borrelia group that caused fatal borreliosis in a bat in the United Kingdom. Further studies are needed to characterize these new agents and determine if the A. vespertilionis tick is a vector and/or reservoir of these agents.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Rickettsia africae is the agent of African tick bite fever, a disease transmitted by ticks in sub-Saharan Africa. In Union of the Comoros, a recent study reported the presence of a Rickettsia africae vector but no information has been provided on the circulation of the pathogenic agent in this country. METHODS: To evaluate the possible circulation of Rickettsia spp. in Comorian cattle, genomic DNA was extracted from 512 ticks collected either in the Union of the Comoros or from animals imported from Tanzania and subsequently tested for Rickettsia infection by quantitative PCR. RESULTS: Rickettsia africae was detected in 90% (60/67) of Amblyomma variegatum, 1% (1/92) of Rhipicephalus appendiculatus and 2.7% (8/296) of Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus ticks collected in the Union of the Comoros, as well as in 77.14% (27/35) of Amblyomma variegatum ticks collected from imported cattle. Partial sequences of both bacterial gltA and ompA genes were used in a phylogenetic analysis revealing the presence of several haplotypes, all included within the Rickettsia africae clade. CONCLUSIONS: Our study reports the first evidence of Rickettsia africae in ticks collected from the Union of the Comoros. The data show a significant difference of infection rate of Rickettsia africae infected ticks between the Islands, with maximum rates measured in Grande Comore Island, sheltering the main entry port for live animal importation from Tanzania. The high infection levels reported herein indicate the need for an in-depth assessment of the burden of rickettsioses in the Union of the Comoros, especially among those at risk of infection, such as cattle herders.