Spotted fever group Rickettsia in brown dog ticks Rhipicephalus sanguineus in southwestern Spain
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A total of 2,229 adults ticks (1,428 males and 801 females) belonging to the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus Latreille, 1806, collected from dogs in Seville province (Andalusia), distributed in 500 lots ranging from one to eight specimens per lot, were examined for the presence of rickettsiae by molecular techniques. Specific rickettsiae DNA were detected in 90 lots (18%) of ticks tested. Sequence analysis of amplicons revealed that R. sanguineus ticks were infected exclusively with Rickettsia massiliae (including the strain Bar-29). The results of this study extend the knowledge of the geographic distribution and prevalence of these spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsiae and indicate that at least two of them, with yet uncertain pathogenicity to humans, are present in brown dog ticks in south western Spain. Although Mediterranean spotted fever (MSF) is an endemic disease in Andalusia, Rickettsia conorii was not found, whereas R. massiliae, recently described as a pathogenic species, was highly prevalent in this area. Our data suggest that in Andalusia a number of MSF or MSF-like cases attributed to R. conorii could have been actually caused by other SFG rickettsia present in R. sanguineus, particularly, R. massiliae.
KeywordsPast Infection Tick Vector Spotted Fever Group Mediterranean Spotted Fever Rhipicephalus Sanguineus
This study has been supported by grants from Research Planning of Andalusia Government (Research Group CIV-294). The authors thank Mr. Ernesto García-Márquez, EBD, for his help in dog sampling and Dr. Ricardo Oya, Research Services of Jaén University, for his technical assistance in sequencing. The experiments comply with the current laws of Spain and the European Union.
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