Anaplasma phagocytophilum in questing Ixodes ricinus ticks in southwestern Finland

Abstract

Anaplasma phagocytophilum is the causative agent of an emerging tick-borne disease, human granulocytic anaplasmosis. While the bacterium has been reported from questing ticks in neighboring Sweden, Norway and Russia, the few surveys regarding questing ticks in Finland have thus far been negative. In the current study, the prevalence of A. phagocytophilum in Ixodes ricinus populations was evaluated in several study localities around southwestern Finland during 2013–2014. Some of these populations were previously screened and found negative for A. phagocytophilum in 2000. A total of 3158 I. ricinus collected by blanket dragging were screened for Anaplasma spp. using qPCR. Anaplasma were detected in 9.2% of adult ticks (n = 87) and 3.1% of nymphs (n = 979). All larval samples were negative for infection. All Anaplasma-positive samples were identified as A. phagocytophilum by sequencing. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first report of the pathogen from questing ticks in Finland. Furthermore, the pathogen was detected from several localities found negative during the previous screening 13 years earlier.

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Fig. 1

Modified from Sormunen et al. (2016b)

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Acknowledgements

Eva R. Kallio (University of Jyväskylä) is thanked for providing A. phagocytophilum samples to be used as positive controls in the analyses. This study was supported by Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, the University of Turku Foundation and Emil Aaltonen Foundation. Special thanks go to MD–PhD Sakari Alhopuro for his financial support. Finally, Toni Hytönen and Omar Badawieh are thanked for their help with field surveys.

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Correspondence to Jani J. Sormunen.

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Sormunen, J.J., Penttinen, R., Klemola, T. et al. Anaplasma phagocytophilum in questing Ixodes ricinus ticks in southwestern Finland. Exp Appl Acarol 70, 491–500 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10493-016-0093-7

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Keywords

  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum
  • Ixodes ricinus
  • Finland
  • Questing tick
  • DNA
  • qPCR