Ixodid ticks are responsible for the transmission of various intracellular bacteria, such as the Rickettsia species. Little Information is available about the genetic characterization and epidemiology of Rickettsia spp. The current study was designed to assess the tick species infesting various livestock hosts and the associated Rickettsia spp. in Pakistan. Ticks were collected from different livestock hosts (equids, cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, and camels); morphologically identified; and screened for the genetic characterization of Rickettsia spp. by the amplification of partial fragments of the gltA, ompA and ompB genes. Altogether, 707 ticks were collected from 373 infested hosts out of 575 observed hosts. The infested hosts comprised 105 cattle, 71 buffaloes, 70 sheep, 60 goats, 34 camels, and 33 equids. The overall occurrence of Rickettsia spp. was 7.6% (25/330) in the tested ticks. Rickettsia DNA was detected in Rhipicephalus haemaphysaloides (9/50, 18.0%), followed by Rhipicephalus turanicus (13/99, 13.1%), Haemaphysalis cornupunctata (1/18, 5.5%), and Rhipicephalus microplus (2/49, 4.1%); however, no rickettsial DNA was detected in Hyalomma anatolicum (71), Hyalomma dromedarii (35), and Haemaphysalis sulcata (8). Two Rickettsia agents were identified based on partial gltA, ompA, and ompB DNA sequences. The Rickettsia species detected in Rh. haemaphysaloides, Rh. turanicus, and Rh. microplus showed 99–100% identity with Rickettsia sp. and Candidatus Rickettsia shennongii, and in the phylogenetic trees clustered with the corresponding Rickettsia spp. The Rickettsia species detected in Rh. haemaphysaloides, Rh. turanicus, Rh. microplus, and Ha. cornupunctata showed 100% identity with R. massiliae, and in the phylogenetic trees it was clustered with the same species. Candidatus R. shennongii was characterized for the first time in Rh. haemaphysaloides, Rh. turanicus, and Rh. microplus. The presence of SFG Rickettsia spp., including the human pathogen R. massiliae, indicates a zoonotic risk in the study region, thus stressing the need for regular surveillance.
Spotted fever illness caused by the tick-borne pathogen Rickettsia parkeri has emerged in the Pampa biome in southern Brazil, where the tick Amblyomma tigrinum is implicated as the main vector. Because domestic dogs are commonly parasitized by A. tigrinum, this canid is also a suitable sentinel for R. parkeri-associated spotted fever. Herein, we investigate rickettsial infection in ticks, domestic dogs and small mammals in a natural reserve of the Pampa biome in southern Brazil. The ticks A. tigrinum, Amblyomma aureolatum and Rhipicephalus sanguineus were collected from dogs. Molecular analyses of ticks did not detect R. parkeri; however, at least 34% (21/61) of the A. tigrinum ticks were infected by the non-pathogenic agent ‘Candidatus Rickettsia andeanae’. Serological analyses revealed that only 14% and 3% of 36 dogs and 34 small mammals, respectively, were exposed to rickettsial antigens. These results indicate that the study area is not endemic for R. parkeri rickettsiosis. We tabulated 10 studies that reported rickettsial infection in A. tigrinum populations from South America. There was a strong negative correlation between the infection rates by R. parkeri and ‘Candidatus R. andeanae’ in A. tigrinum populations. We propose that high infection rates by ‘Candidatus R. andeanae’ might promote the exclusion of R. parkeri from A. tigrinum populations. The mechanisms for such exclusion are yet to be elucidated.
Objetivo. Informe sobre especies de garrapatas que parasitan a los humanos en un área del bioma semiárido de Caatinga, noreste de Brasil, con nota de infección por rickettsias. Materiales y métodos. Todas las garrapatas se identificaron morfológicamente con estereomicroscopio. Algunas de las garrapatas recolectadas se analizaron molecularmente para detectar la presencia de ADN de bacterias del género Rickettsia. Las garrapatas se sometieron individualmente a la extracción de ADN (gen de la citrato sintasa [gltA] y gen de la proteína de la membrana externa [ompA]). Resultados. Se recolectaron un total de 78 garrapatas en humanos, identificadas como adultos de Amblyomma parvum (62 hembras y 16 machos). De estas, 15 mujeres fueron infectadas por ‘Candidatus Rickettsia andeanae’. Conclusiones. El presente estudio confirma una zona más de riesgo humano de picaduras de garrapatas en Brasil, también de la rickettsia no patógena 'Ca. Rickettsia andeanae'