Med Vet Entomol. 2010 Sep 26; [Epub ahead of print]
Established and emerging pathogens in Ixodes ricinus ticks
collected from birds on a conservation island in the Baltic Sea.
Franke J, Meier F, Moldenhauer A, Straube E, Dorn W, Hildebrandt
Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Institute of
Nutrition, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Jena, Germany
Medical University Laboratories, Institute of Medical
Microbiology, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Jena,
Tick-borne pathogens such as Lyme borreliosis spirochaetes,
Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Rickettsia spp. and Babesia spp. cause
a great variety of diseases in animals and humans. Although their
importance with respect to emerging human diseases is increasing,
many issues about their ecology are still unclear. In spring
2007, 191 Ixodes ricinus (Acari: Ixodidae) ticks were collected
from 99 birds of 11 species on a bird conservation island in the
Baltic Sea in order to test them for Borrelia spp., A.
phagocytophilum, Rickettsia spp. and Babesia spp. infections.
Identification of the pathogens was performed by polymerase chain
reaction (PCR), restriction fragment length polymorphism and
sequence analysis. The majority of birds with ticks testing
positive were European robins and thrushes. Borrelia DNA was
detected in 14.1%, A. phagocytophilum in 2.6%, rickettsiae in
7.3% and Babesia spp. in 4.7% of the ticks. Co-infections with
different pathogens occurred in six ticks (3.1%). The fact that
11 ticks (five larvae, six nymphs) were infected with Borrelia
afzelii suggests that birds may, contrary to current opinion,
serve as reservoir hosts for this species. Among rickettsial
infections, we identified Rickettsia monacensis and Rickettsia
helvetica. As we detected five Rickettsia spp.
positive larvae and two birds carried more than one infected
tick, transmission of those pathogens from birds to ticks appears
Further characterization of Babesia infections revealed Babesia
divergens and Babesia microti. The occurrence of Babesia spp. in
a total of five larvae suggests that birds may be able to infect
ticks, at least with Ba. microti, a species considered not to be
transmitted transovarially in ticks.
(c) 2010 The Authors. Medical and Veterinary Entomology (c) 2010
The Royal Entomological Society.
PMID: 20868431 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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