Association of SFG Rickettsia massiliae and Candidatus Rickettsia shennongii with Different Hard Ticks Infesting Livestock Hosts

Shehla et al. (2023). Pathogens 12 (9)
Names (1)
Ca. Rickettsia shennongii
General Immunology and Microbiology Immunology and Allergy Infectious Diseases Microbiology (medical) Molecular Biology
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.
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