Rickettsia spp. in rodent-attached ticks and first evidence of Spotted fever Group Rickettsia species Candidatus Rickettsia uralica in Europe

Vikentjeva et al. (2020).
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Abstract BACKGROUND Rickettsia spp. are human pathogens that cause a number of diseases and are transmitted by arthropods, including ixodid ticks. Estonia contributes a region, where the distribution area of two exophilic tick species of known medical importance, Ixodes persulcatus and I. ricinus, overlap. The presence of the nidicolous rodent-associated I. trianguliceps has recently been shown for Estonia. Although there is no Estonian data available on human disease caused by tick-borne Rickettsia spp., the presence of three Rickettsia species in non-nidicolous ticks, albiet at very dissimilar rates, was also previously reported. The aim of this studywas to screen, identify and characterize Rickettsia species in nidicolous and non-nidicolous ticks attached to rodents. RESULTS Nymphs and larvae of I. ricinus ( n = 1004), I . persulcatus ( n = 75) and I. trianguliceps ( n = 117) attached to rodents and shrews caught in different parts of Estonia were studied for the presence of Rickettsia spp. by nested PCR. Ticks were removed from 314 small animals of 5 species (bank voles Myodes glareolus , yellow necked mice Apodemus flavicollis , striped field mice A. agrarius, pine voles M. subterranius and common shrews S. araneus) . Rickettsial DNA was detected in 8,7% (103/1186) studied ticks. In addition to R. helvetica, previously found in questing ticks, this study reports the first identification of the recently described I. trianguliceps- associated Candidatus R. uralica in west of the Ural.
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