Modeling Potential Habitat for Amblyomma Tick Species in California.
ABSTRACT: The Amblyomma genus of ticks comprises species that are aggressive human biters and vectors of pathogens. Numerous species in the genus are undergoing rapid range expansion. Amblyomma ticks have occasionally been introduced into California, but as yet, no established populations have been reported in the state. Because California has high ecological diversity and is a transport hub for potentially parasitized humans and animals, the risk of future Amblyomma establishment may be high. We used ecological niche modeling to predict areas in California suitable for four tick species that pose high risk to humans: Amblyomma americanum, Amblyomma maculatum, Amblyomma cajennense and Amblyomma mixtum. We collected presence data in the Americas for each species from the published literature and online databases. Twenty-three climatic and ecological variables were used in a MaxEnt algorithm to predict the distribution of each species. The minimum temperature of the coldest month was an important predictor for all four species due to high mortality of Amblyomma at low temperatures. Areas in California appear to be ecologically suitable for A. americanum, A. maculatum, and A. cajennense, but not A. mixtum. These findings could inform targeted surveillance prior to an invasion event, to allow mitigation actions to be quickly implemented.
Project description:Many ticks of the genus Amblyomma are vectors of human pathogens, and the correct species identification is medically and epidemiologically important. Morphological identification is time-consuming and requires a high level of expertise. Identification of engorged, immature, or damaged ticks and the differentiation of closely related species remain problematic. Here, we report the development of a real-time TaqMan assay for the genomic identification and differentiation of Amblyomma americanum (L.), Amblyomma cajennense (F.), and Amblyomma maculatum (Koch), which are human-biting species found in the eastern United States. New species-specific sets of oligonucleotides for the multiplex reaction that detect and differentiate the ITS2 genomic regions of three target species were designed using Visual OMP; the previously published A. americanum oligonucleotide set was also incorporated into our assay. Specificity and sensitivity tests for two multiplex master mixes using different A. americanum sets were performed using individual and pooled samples of adult, nymphal, and larval ticks, and optimization procedures were applied. The multiplex assay successfully differentiates between genomes of three target species and does not cross-react with DNAs of ticks from other genera. Rare cases of nonspecific amplification occurred with DNAs of A. imitator and Amblyomma triste Koch misidentified as A. americanum and A. maculatum, respectively. However, this cross-reaction does not diminish the usefulness of the developed assay east of the 95th meridian, where neither A. imitator nor A. triste are found. Two master mixes incorporating the previously published or newly developed A. americanum sets are being recommended for identification of individual ticks or pooled samples, respectively.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In the Eastern and Upper Midwestern regions of North America, Ixodes scapularis (L.) is the most abundant tick species encountered by humans and the primary vector of B. burgdorferi, whereas in the southeastern region Amblyomma americanum (Say) is the most abundant tick species encountered by humans but cannot transmit B. burgdorferi. Surveys of Borreliae in ticks have been conducted in the southeastern United States and often these surveys identify B. lonestari as the primary Borrelia species, surveys have not included Arkansas ticks, canines, or white-tailed deer and B. lonestari is not considered pathogenic. The objective of this study was to identify Borrelia species within Arkansas by screening ticks (n=2123), canines (n=173), and white-tailed deer (n=228) to determine the identity and locations of Borreliae endemic to Arkansas using PCR amplification of the flagellin (flaB) gene. METHODS: Field collected ticks from canines and from hunter-killed white-tailed were identified to species and life stage. After which, ticks and their hosts were screened for the presence of Borrelia using PCR to amplify the flaB gene. A subset of the positive samples was confirmed with bidirectional sequencing. RESULTS: In total 53 (21.2%) white-tailed deer, ten (6%) canines, and 583 (27.5%) Ixodid ticks (252 Ixodes scapularis, 161 A. americanum, 88 Rhipicephalus sanguineus, 50 Amblyomma maculatum, 19 Dermacentor variabilis, and 13 unidentified Amblyomma species) produced a Borrelia flaB amplicon. Of the positive ticks, 324 (22.7%) were collected from canines (151 A. americanum, 78 R. sanguineus, 43 I. scapularis, 26 A. maculatum, 18 D. variabilis, and 8 Amblyomma species) and 259 (37.2%) were collected from white-tailed deer (209 I. scapularis, 24 A. maculatum, 10 A. americanum, 10 R. sanguineus, 1 D. variabilis, and 5 Amblyomma species). None of the larvae were PCR positive. A majority of the flaB amplicons were homologous with B. lonestari sequences: 281 of the 296 sequenced ticks, 3 canines, and 27 deer. Only 22 deer, 7 canines, and 15 tick flaB amplicons (12 I. scapularis, 2 A. maculatum, and 1 Amblyomma species) were homologous with B. burgdorferi sequences. CONCLUSIONS: Data from this study identified multiple Borreliae genotypes in Arkansas ticks, canines and deer including B. burgdorferi and B. lonestari; however, B. lonestari was significantly more prevalent in the tick population than B. burgdorferi. Results from this study suggest that the majority of tick-borne diseases in Arkansas are not B. burgdorferi.
Project description:The water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) is an Asian species of bovine that was introduced in Mexico in 1992 as an alternative for milk and meat production. To date, no surveys have been conducted to identify ticks acquired by water buffaloes since their arrival in the country. Here we report, for the first time, the presence of Amblyomma mixtum, a neotropical tick in the Amblyomma cajennense complex, found on water buffaloes from Mexico and discuss its possible implications in veterinary public health for the region.
Project description:Development of specific IgE antibodies to the oligosaccharide galactose-?-1, 3-galactose (?-gal) following tick bites has been shown to be the source of red meat allergy. In this study, we investigated the presence of ?-gal in four tick species: the lone-star tick (Amblyomma americanum), the Gulf-Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum), the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), and the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) by using a combination of immunoproteomic approach and, carbohydrate analysis. Anti-?-gal antibodies identified ?-gal in the salivary glands of both Am. americanum and Ix. scapularis, while Am. maculatum and De. variabilis appeared to lack the carbohydrate. PNGase F treatment confirmed the deglycosylation of N-linked ?-gal-containing proteins in tick salivary glands. Immunolocalization of ?-gal moieties to the salivary secretory vesicles of the salivary acini also confirmed the secretory nature of ?-gal-containing antigens in ticks. Am. americanum ticks were fed on human blood (lacks ?-gal) using a silicone membrane system to determine the source of the ?-gal. N-linked glycan analysis revealed that Am. americanum and Ix. scapularis have ?-gal in their saliva and salivary glands, but Am. maculatum contains no detectable quantity. Consistent with the glycan analysis, salivary samples from Am. americanum and Ix. scapularis stimulated activation of basophils primed with plasma from ?-gal allergic subjects. Together, these data support the idea that bites from certain tick species may specifically create a risk for the development of ?-gal-specific IgE and hypersensitivity reactions in humans. Alpha-Gal syndrome challenges the current food allergy paradigm and broadens opportunities for future research.
Project description:Polymerase chain reaction analysis of 204 Amblyomma americanum and 28 A. maculatum ticks collected in August 1999 near the homes of patients with southern tick-associated rash illness and in control areas in Choctaw County, Alabama, showed Borrelia lonestari flagellin gene sequence from two adult A. americanum. The presence of B. lonestari in A. americanum ticks from Alabama suggests that this suspected pathogen may be widespread in the southeastern United States.
Project description:The population of the lone star tick Amblyomma americanum has expanded in North America over the last several decades. It is known to be an aggressive and nondiscriminatory biter and is by far the most common human-biting tick encountered in Virginia. Few studies of human pathogen prevalence in ticks have been conducted in our state since the mid-twentieth century. We developed a six-plex real-time PCR assay to detect three Ehrlichia species (E. chaffeensis, E. ewingii, and Panola Mountain Ehrlichia) and three spotted fever group Rickettsiae (SFGR; R. amblyommii, R. parkeri, and R. rickettsii) and used it to test A. americanum from around the state. Our studies revealed a presence of all three Ehrlichia species (0-24.5%) and a high prevalence (50-80%) of R. amblyommii, a presumptively nonpathogenic SFGR, in all regions surveyed. R. parkeri, previously only detected in Virginia's Amblyomma maculatum ticks, was found in A. americanum in several surveyed areas within two regions having established A. maculatum populations. R. rickettsii was not found in any sample tested. Our study provides the first state-wide screening of A. americanum ticks in recent history and indicates that human exposure to R. amblyommii and to Ehrlichiae may be common. The high prevalence of R. amblyommii, serological cross-reactivity of all SFGR members, and the apparent rarity of R. rickettsii in human biting ticks across the eastern United States suggest that clinical cases of tick-borne disease, including ehrlichiosis, may be commonly misdiagnosed as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and that suspicion of other SFGR as well as Ehrlichia should be increased. These data may be of relevance to other regions where A. americanum is prevalent.
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:This study was performed in Maranhão state, a transition area two Brazilian biomes, Amazon and Cerrado. During 2011-2013, 1,560 domestic dogs were sampled for collection of serum blood samples and ticks in eight counties (3 within the Amazon and 5 within the Cerrado). A total of 959 ticks were collected on 150 dogs (9.6%). Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato (s.l.) was the most abundant tick (68% of all collected specimens), followed by Amblyomma cajennense sensu lato (s.l.) (12.9%), Amblyomma parvum (9.2%), and Amblyomma ovale (5.2%). Other less abundant species (<1%) were Amblyomma oblongoguttatum, Rhipicephalus microplus, Haemaphysalis juxtakochi, and Amblyomma rotundatum. Females of A. cajennense s.l. ticks were morphologically identified as A. cajennense sensu stricto (s.s.) or A. sculptum. Molecular analyses of 779 canine ticks revealed three Rickettsia species: Rickettsia amblyommatis in 1% (1/100) A. cajennense s.l., 'Candidatus Rickettsia andeanae' in 20.7% (12/58) A. parvum, Rickettsia bellii in 6.8% (3/44) A. ovale and 100% (1/1) A. rotundatum ticks. An additional collection of A. sculptum from horses in a Cerrado area, and A. cajennense s.s. from pigs in an Amazon area revealed R. amblyommatis infecting only the A. cajennense s.s. ticks. Serological analysis of the 1,560 canine blood samples revealed 12.6% canine seroreactivity to Rickettsia spp., with the highest specific seroreactivity rate (10.2%) for R. amblyommatis. Endpoint titers to R. amblyommatis were significantly higher than those for the other Rickettsia antigens, suggesting that most of the seroreactive dogs were exposed to R. amblyommatis-infected ticks. Highest canine seroreactivity rates per locality (13.1-30.8%) were found in Amazon biome, where A. cajennense s.s. predominated. Lowest seroreactivity rates (1.9-6.5%) were found in Cerrado localities that were further from the Amazon, where A. sculptum predominated. Multivariate analyses revealed that canine seroreactivity to Rickettsia spp. or R. amblyommatis was statistically associated with rural dogs, exposed to Amblyomma ticks.
Project description:A statewide survey of questing ixodid ticks in mainland Florida was developed consistent with U.S. CDC standards to maximize the amount of epidemiologic and environmental data gathered. Survey sites were stratified by climatic zones and proportional to recognized land cover categories. A total of 560 transects on 41 sites within the state were sampled repeatedly by flagging between 2015 and 2018. Four tick species were collected; Amblyomma americanum, Amblyomma maculatum, Ixodes scapularis and Dermacentor variabilis. All species were more commonly found in northern and central regions of the state than in southern and western regions. Adult I. scapularis were active from autumn through spring and complementary to adult A. americanum and D. variabilis. Standardized survey methods help reduce sampling biases and better characterize risk from the species surveyed. However, differences in the attractiveness of collection methods for different tick species makes cross-species comparisons a continuing challenge.
Project description:Many organisms, such as insects, filarial nematodes, and ticks, contain heritable bacterial endosymbionts that are often closely related to transmissible tickborne pathogens. These intracellular bacteria are sometimes unique to the host species, presumably due to isolation and genetic drift. We used a polymerase chain reaction/electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry assay designed to detect a wide range of vectorborne microorganisms to characterize endosymbiont genetic signatures from Amblyomma americanum (L.), Amblyomma maculatum Koch, Dermacentor andersoni Stiles, Dermacentor occidentalis Marx, Dermacentor variabilis (Say), Ixodes scapularis Say, Ixodes pacificus Cooley & Kohls, Ixodes ricinus (L.), and Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille) ticks collected at various sites and of different stages and both sexes. The assay combines the abilities to simultaneously detect pathogens and closely related endosymbionts and to identify tick species via characterization of their respective unique endosymbionts in a single test.