Rickettsial pathogens in the tropical rat mite Ornithonyssus bacoti (Acari: Macronyssidae) from Egyptian rats (Rattus spp.)

  • Will K. Reeves
  • Amanda D. Loftis
  • Daniel E. Szumlas
  • Magda M. Abbassy
  • Ibrahim M. Helmy
  • Hanafi A. Hanafi
  • Gregory A. Dasch
Brief Communication


We collected and tested 616 tropical rat mites (Ornithonyssus bacoti (Hirst)) from rats (Rattus norvegicus (Berkenhout) and R. rattus (Linnaeus)) throughout 14 governorates in Egypt and tested DNA extracts from pools of these mites for Bartonella spp., Coxiella burnetii, and Rickettsia spp. by PCR amplification and sequencing. Three different mite-associated bacterial agents, including one Bartonella and two Rickettsia spp., were detected in eight pools of mites. Further research could demonstrate the vector potential of mites and pathogenicity of these agents to humans or animals.


Mites Rickettsia Bartonella Ornithonyssus bacoti Norway rat Black rat Egypt 


  1. Bakr ME, Morsy TA, Nassef NEA, El Meligi MA (1995) Mites infesting commensal rodents in Shebin El Kom, Menoufia G., Egypt. J Egypt Soc Parasitol 25:853–859PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Boulouis H, Chang C, Henn JB, Kasten RW, Chomel BB (2005) Factors associated with the rapid emergence of zoonotic Bartonella infections. Vet Res 36:383–410PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Comer JA, Tzianabos T, Flynn C, Vlahov D, Childs JE (1999) Serologic evidence of rickettsialpox (Rickettsia akari) infection among intravenous drug users in inner-city Baltimore, Maryland. Am J Trop Med Hyg 60:894–898PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Corwin A, Habib M, Olson J, Scott D, Ksiazek T, Watts DM (1992) The prevalence of arboviral, rickettsial, and Hantaan-like viral antibodies among schoolchildren in the Nile River Delta of Egypt. Trans Royal Soc Trop Med Hyg 86:677–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Daly JS, Worthington MG, Brenner DJ, Moss CW, Hollis DG, Weyant RS Steigerwalt AG, Weaver RE, Daneshvar MI, O’Connor SP (1993) Rochalimaea elizabethae sp. nov. isolated from a patient with endocarditis. J Clin Microbiol 31:872–881PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Ellis BA, Regnery RL, Beati L, Bacellar F, Rood M, Glass GG, Marston E, Ksiazek TG, Jones D, Childs JE (1999) Rats of the genus Rattus are reservoir hosts for pathogenic Bartonella species: an Old World origin for a New World disease? J Infect Dis 180:220–224PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Guedes E, Leite RC, Prata MC, Pacheco RC, Walker DH, Labruna MB (2005) Detection of Rickettsia rickettsii in the tick Amblyomma cajennense in a new Brazilian spotted fever-endemic area in the state of Minas Gerais. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 100:841–845PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Huebner RJ, Jellison WL, Pomerantz C (1946) Rickettsialpox – a newly recognized rickettsial disease IV. Isolation of a Rickettsia apparently identical with the causative agent of rickettsialpox from Allodermanyssus sanguineus, a rodent mite. Pub Health Rep 61:1677–1682Google Scholar
  9. Imam IZ, Megid SA (1966) Preliminary notes on typhus among rodents in U.A.R. J Egypt Pub Health Ass 41:133–143Google Scholar
  10. Lindo JF, Waugh C, Hall J, Cunningham-Myrie C, Ashley D, Eberhard ML, Sullivan JJ, Bishop HS, Robinson DG, Holtz T, Robinson RD (2002) Enzootic Angiostrongylus cantonensis in Rats and Snails after an Outbreak of Human Eosinophilic Meningitis, Jamaica. Emerg Infect Dis 8:324–326PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Loftis AD, Reeves WK, Szumlas DE, Abbassy MM, Helmy IM, Moriarity JR, Dasch GA (2006a) Surveillance of Egyptian fleas for agents of public health significance: Anaplasma, Bartonella, Coxiella, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, and Yersinia pestis. Am J Trop Med Hyg 75:41–48Google Scholar
  12. Loftis AD, Reeves WK, Szumlas DE, Abbassy MM, Helmy IM, Moriatiry JR, Dasch GA (2006b) Rickettsial agents in Egyptian ticks collected from domestic animals. Exp App Acarology 40:67–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Moriarity JR, Loftis AD, Dasch GA (2005) High-throughput molecular testing of ticks using a liquid-handling robot. J Med Ent 42:1063–1067CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Osborn DJ, Helmy I (1980) The contemporary land mammals of Egypt (including Sinai). Fieldiana Zool (New Series) 5:1–579Google Scholar
  15. Perlman SJ, Hunter MS, Zchori-Fein E (2006) The emerging diversity of Rickettsia. Proc Biol Sci 273:2097–2106PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Reeves WK, Nelder MP, Korecki JA (2005) Bartonella and Rickettsia in fleas and lice from mammals in South Carolina, USA. J Vector Ecol 30:310–315PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Reeves WK, Easterbrook JD, Loftis AD, Glass GE (2006a) Serologic evidence for Rickettsia typhi and an ehrlichial agent in Norway Rats from Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Vector-Borne Zoonotic Dis 6:244–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Reeves WK, Szumlas DE, Moriarity JR, Loftis AD, Abbassy MM, Helmy IM, Dasch GA (2006b) Louse-borne bacterial pathogens in lice (Phthiraptera) of rodents and cattle from Egypt. J Parasitol 92:313–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Reeves WK, Dowling APG, Dasch GA. (2006c) Rickettsial agents from parasitic Dermanyssoidea (Acari: Mesostigmata). Exp App Acarol 38:181–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Renz A, Wenk P (1981) Intracellular development of the cotton-rat filaria Litomosoides carinii in the vector mite Ornithonyssus bacoti. Trans Royal Soc Trop Med Hyg 75:166–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sekeyova Z, Roux V, Raoult D (2001) Phylogeny of Rickettsia spp. inferred by comparing sequences of ‘gene D’, which encodes an intracytoplasmic protein. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 51:1353–1360PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Shoukry A, Morsy TA, Abu Hashish TA, El Kady GA (1986) Seasonal activities of two commensal rats and flea index in north Sinai Governorate, Egypt. J Egypt Soc Parasitol 16:385–393PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Shoukry A, El Kady GA, Morsym TA, Salama MMI (1993) Rodents and their arthropod ectoparasites in south Sinai Governorate, Egypt. J Egypt Soc Parasitol 23:775–783PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Soliman S, Main AJ, Marzouk AS, Montasser AA (2001) Seasonal studies of commensal rats and their ectoparasites in a rural area of Egypt: the relationship of ectoparasites to the species, locality, and relative abundance of the host. J Parasitol 87:545–553PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Strandtmann RW, Wharton GW (1958) Manual of Mesostigmatid Mites. Institute of Acarology. College Park, Maryland, 400 ppGoogle Scholar
  26. Traub R, Wisseman CL, Farhang-Azad A (1978) The ecology of murine typhus- a critical review. Trop Dis Bull 75:237–317PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Walter DE, Shaw M (2005) Mites and disease. In: Marquardt WC (ed) Biology of Disease Vectors. Elsevier Academic Press, Amsterdam, pp 25–44Google Scholar
  28. Webb L, Carl M, Malloy DC, Dasch GA, Azad AF (1990) Detection of murine typhus infection in fleas by using the polymerase chain reaction. J Clin Micro 28:530–534Google Scholar
  29. Younis TA, Fayad ME, El Hariry MA, Morsy TA (1995) Interaction between Acari ectoparasites and rodents in Suez Governorate, Egypt. J Egypt Soc Parasitol 25:377–394PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Yunker CE (1964) Infections of laboratory animals potentially dangerous to man: ectoparasites and other arthropods, with emphasis on mites. Lab Animal Care 14:455–465Google Scholar
  31. Zeaiter Z, Fournier P, Ogata H, Raoult D (2002) Phylogenetic classification of Bartonella species by comparing groEL sequences. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 52:165–171PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Will K. Reeves
    • 1
  • Amanda D. Loftis
    • 2
  • Daniel E. Szumlas
    • 3
  • Magda M. Abbassy
    • 4
  • Ibrahim M. Helmy
    • 4
  • Hanafi A. Hanafi
    • 4
  • Gregory A. Dasch
    • 2
  1. 1.LilburnUSA
  2. 2.Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Navy Disease Vector Ecology and Control CenterJacksonvilleUSA
  4. 4.Vector Biology Research Program, U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 3FPOUSA

Personalised recommendations