Molecular detection of Rickettsia, Borrelia, and Babesia species in Ixodes ricinus sampled in northeastern, central, and insular areas of Italy
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The aim of the present study was to provide insight into the diversity of tick-borne pathogens circulating in Italy, carried/transmitted by Ixodes ricinus, one of the most abundant tick species in the country. A total of 447 specimens sampled in five areas of northeastern, central and insular Italy were analysed by polymerase chain reaction and sequencing for the presence of rickettsiae, borreliae and babesiae. Several rickettsial species of the spotted fever group of zoonotic concern and other zoonotic pathogens were found, such as Borrelia burgdorferi s.s., Borrelia afzelii, Borrelia garinii, and Babesia venatorum. These findings confirm a wide distribution of tick-borne bacterial and protozoan species in Italy, and highlight the sanitary importance of I. ricinus, often recorded as feeding on humans.
KeywordsRickettsia spp. Borrelia spp. Babesia venatorum Italy PCR
Authors are grateful to Mrs G. Croce and Mr A. Giacomi for the excellent technical assistance and to Prof. D. Piergili Fioretti and P. Calderini for providing some tick samples. This work was financially supported by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (PRIN, Prot. 2004075927_002). We also thank the Erasmus Mundus program of the EulaLinks consortium for the fellowship given to Lyda Castro.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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