Tick-borne pathogens in tick species infesting humans in Sibiu County, central Romania
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Romania has a highly diverse tick fauna. Consequently, a high diversity of tick-transmitted pathogens might be a potential threat to humans. However, only a limited number of tick species regularly infest humans, and pathogens present in such species are therefore of particular interest from a medical perspective. In this study, 297 ticks were collected from humans during 2013 and 2014. Ixodes ricinus was the predominant tick species, accounting for 272 specimens or 91.6% of the ticks in the study. Nevertheless, other tick species were also found to infest humans: Dermacentor marginatus constituted 7% of the ticks found on humans (21/297), Haemaphysalis punctata 1% (3/297), and Haemaphysalis concinna 0.3% (1/297). Ticks were tested by PCR for a wide range of tick-borne pathogens. In total, 11.8% of the ticks carried human pathogenic bacteria, while no viral or protozoan pathogens were detected. The most frequently detected pathogen was Rickettsia spp., occurring in 5.4% of the ticks (16/297) and comprising three species: Rickettsia (R.) raoultii, R. monacensis, and R. helvetica. Borrelia s.l. occurred in 3% (9/297) of the ticks. “Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis” occurred in 1.7% (5/297) and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in 1.3% (4/297). Anaplasma bovis was detected in an H. punctata and Borrelia miyamotoi in an I. ricinus. These results point to the need for further studies on the medical importance of tick-borne pathogens in Romania.
KeywordsHumans Ticks Tick-borne diseases Sibiu County Romania
We are sincerely grateful to Richard Robbins for comments on the manuscript.
This work was funded by the German Center of Infection Research (DZIF), The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, The Royal Physiographic Society in Lund, and The Lund Animal Welfare Fund (Lunds djurskyddsfond).
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