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Rickettsia aeschlimannii in Hyalomma marginatum Ticks, Germany

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To the Editor: Rickettsia spp. of the spotted fever group cause worldwide emerging human infections known as tick-borne rickettsioses (1). Data on the occurrence and prevalence of Rickettsia in Germany are still limited (2). Six Rickettsia species have been reported to date (2). R. helvetica, R. felis, R. massiliae, and R. monacensis were detected with a relatively low prevalence in Ixodes ricinus ticks collected in southern Germany (2); R. raoultii was identified with high prevalence in the rapidly expanding area where D. reticulatus ticks are found (2). R. raoultii was recently recognized as an agent of tick-borne lymphadenopathy/Dermacentor-borne necrosis and erythema lymphadenopathy (3). Low prevalence of another tick-borne lymphadenopathy agent, R. slovaca, in Dermacentor marginatus ticks collected in southern Germany was recently reported (4).
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LETTERS
7. Tonteri E, Jääskeläinen AE, Tikkakoski T,
Voutilainen L, Niemimaa J, Henttonen H,
et al. Tick-borne encephalitis virus in wild
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9. Randolph SE, Rogers DJ. Fragile transmis-
sion cycles of tick-borne encephalitis vi-
rus may be disrupted by predicted climate
change. Proc Biol Sci. 2000;267:1741–4.
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2000.1204
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warming and tick-borne encephalitis, Slo-
vakia. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010;16:524–6.
DOI: 10.3201/eid1603.081364
Address for correspondence: Anu E.
Jääskeläinen, Department of Virology, Haartman
Institute, PO Box 21 FI-00014, University of
Helsinki, Helsinki 00014, Finland; email: anu.
jaaskelainen@helsinki.
Rickettsia
aeschlimannii
in
Hyalomma
marginatum
Ticks,
Germany
To the Editor: Rickettsia spp. of
the spotted fever group cause world-
wide emerging human infections
known as tick-borne rickettsioses (1).
Data on the occurrence and prevalence
of Rickettsia in Germany are still lim-
ited (2). Six Rickettsia species have
been reported to date (2). R. helvetica,
R. felis, R. massiliae, and R. mona-
censis were detected with a relatively
low prevalence in Ixodes ricinus ticks
collected in southern Germany (2); R.
raoultii was identi ed with high prev-
alence in the rapidly expanding area
where D. reticulatus ticks are found
(2). R. raoultii was recently recog-
nized as an agent of tick-borne lymph-
adenopathy/Dermacentor-borne
necrosis and erythema lymphadenop-
athy (3). Low prevalence of another
tick-borne lymphadenopathy agent, R.
slovaca, in Dermacentor marginatus
ticks collected in southern Germany
was recently reported (4).
We report the detection in Germa-
ny of the pathogenic SFG species R.
aeshlimannii (1), which is phylogenet-
ically close to R. raoultii and causes
an infection with clinical signs similar
to those of Mediterranean spotted fe-
ver (1). To determine the prevalence
of R. raoultii in the ticks in Berlin/
Brandenburg and neighboring re-
gions, we collected 294 ticks; 288 had
been collected either from vegetation
or domestic animals and morphologi-
cally identi ed as adult D. reticulatus
ticks. The remaining 6 ticks were de-
livered by an ornithologist who had
removed them from a bird (belonging
to the Acrocephalus scirpaceus spp.)
that he had captured in the reeds near
Pakendorf and Zerbst, Saxony-Anhalt,
in May 2007. These 6 ticks were re-
ported as D. reticulatus–like adults
but were damaged in the collection
process, making an exact morphologic
evaluation impossible.
DNA was isolated from the com-
plete tick body by homogenization in
the SpeedMill (Analytik Jena Biosolu-
tions, Jena, Germany) followed by pu-
ri cation by RapideStripe tick DNA/
RNA Extraction Kit (Analytik Jena
Biosolutions). Multispacer typing (5)
was used for molecular detection and
determination of Rickettsia spp. (Fig-
ure). DNA sequencing and analysis
were performed as described (Figure).
In 51.3% of the intact tick isolates,
R. raoultii was detected. In each of the
3 damaged isolates, the multispacer
type pattern was detected, which was
100% identical to that of R. aeschli-
mannii (5) (Figure). Moreover, PCR,
which we routinely use as a positive
control for molecular identi cation of
D. reticulatus, yielded no product in
the damaged isolates (Figure).
To determine the species of the
damaged ticks, we used 3 tick-speci c
PCRs. One ampli ed a 16S rRNA frag-
ment used for phylogenetic studies of
ticks (6). Use of the other 2 PCRs was
Emerging Infectious Diseases • www.cdc.gov/eid • Vol. 17, No. 2, February 2011 325
Figure. Illustration of multispacer typing. Amplicons 1–4 result from PCRs on DNA obtained
from 1 Rickettsia raoultii–infected Dermacentor reticulatus tick isolate; lanes 5–8 result
from PCRs on 1 damaged isolate. PCRs amplifying dksA-xerC (lanes 1 and 5), mppA-
purC (lanes 2 and 6), and rpmE-tRNA (lanes 3 and 7) intergenic spacers were performed
as described (5). PCR amplifying the entire internal transcribed factor 2 (ITS2) locus of
D. reticulatus tick (lanes 4 and 8) was involved in each PCR run as a positive control and
for validation of D. reticulatus tick identity (the primers will be described elsewhere).The
negative result of ITS2 PCR with the damaged isolates (lane 8) indicated that they are not
D. reticulatus ticks. Lane M, DNA size marker (100-bp ladder). PCR products were directly
sequenced in both directions with respective primers by an ABI PRISM DNA Sequencer
(Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA, USA). DNA Star package (DNA Star, Madison, WI,
USA) and the tools offered by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (www.
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) were used for DNA search and analysis.
LETTERS
based on the consideration that R. ae-
schlimannii is usually found in ticks of
the genus Hyalomma, primarily in H.
marginatum (1). Therefore, 1 of the
PCRs ampli ed a fragment of the Hya-
lomma tick mitochondrial cytochrome
oxidase I gene and the other a fragment
of the internal transcribed spacer 2 (7).
The ITS2 fragment displayed the
highest (99%) similarity with the re-
spective fragment of H. marginatum,
H. dromedarii, H. truncatum, and H.
lusitanicum. Cytochrome oxidase sub-
unit I fragment was 99% identical to
H. marginatum, H. dromedarii, and
H. truncatum. The 16S RNA fragment
was 98% identical to H. marginatum;
its identity to the second closest se-
quence belonging to H. lusitanicum
was 96%.
Earlier, R. aeschlimannii had been
detected in sub-Saharan and North Af-
rica, southern Europe, and southwest-
ern Russia (8). Therefore, the area of
Zerbst, the middle of Germany, marks
the northernmost point of R. aeschli-
mannii detection.
Hyalomma spp. ticks are distrib-
uted in Africa, the Mediterranean cli-
matic zone of southern Europe, and in
Asia. The only documented Hyalomma
spp. tick in Germany was found on a
human in the southern part of the coun-
try (Lake Constance area) in May 2006,
but the possibility of tick transportation
from Spain was not ruled out (9).
Acrocephalus scirpaceus birds
are migratory birds and live in central
Europe from April to October and win-
ter in sub-Saharan Africa in the region
inhabited by Hyalomma spp. ticks.
Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest
that the Hyalomma spp. ticks that we
examined had been transported by the
birds from Africa. The fact that a ran-
domly caught bird was infested with
R. aeshlimannii –infected ticks is sug-
gestive of the intensive stream of new
pathogens transported through Europe
by migrating birds. The rst possible
implication of a bird as a vector of in-
fected ticks was proposed for Hyalom-
ma spp. ticks infected by R. sibirica
mongolitimonae (10). Until now, the
role of migrating birds in distribu-
tion of tick-borne pathogens has been
poorly understood (9). The changing
climate and environment in central
Europe may facilitate the establish-
ment of pathogen-carrying tick spe-
cies transported by birds. These new
pathogens can be directly transmitted
from infected birds to the species of
the local fauna.
Acknowledgment
We thank Yuliya Dobrydneva for crit-
ical reading of the manuscript.
Leonid Rumer, Elmara Graser,
Timo Hillebrand,
Thomas Talaska, Hans Dautel,
Oleg Mediannikov,
Panchali Roy-Chowdhury,
Olga Sheshukova,
Oliver Donoso Mantke,
and Matthias Niedrig
Author af liations: Robert Koch Institut,
Berlin, Germany (L. Rumer, P. Roy-Chow-
dhury, O. Sheshukova, O. Donoso Mantke,
M. Niedrig); AJInnuscreen GmbH, Berlin
(E. Graser, T. Hillebrand); Practice for Mi-
crobiology and Epidemiology of Infectious
Diseases, Lindow, Germany (T. Talaska); IS
Insect Services GmbH, Berlin (H. Dautel);
and Université de la Méditerranée, Mar-
seille, France (O. Mediannikov)
DOI: 10.3201/eid1702.100308
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Address for correspondence: Thomas
Talaska, Facharzt für Mikrobiologie und
Infektionsepidemiologie, Georg-Schacht Str 23,
15295 Brieskow-Finkenheerd, Germany; email:
thomas.talaska@t-online.de
Dogs as Reservoirs
for
Leishmania
braziliensis
To the Editor: I have read the re-
view by Sousa and Pearson (1), which
provides a fascinating historical ac-
count of the Great Drought and the
smallpox epidemic of the 1870s and
their association with the emergence
of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Ceará,
Brazil. In their review, the authors
went back to the 19th century, remem-
bering the hard years experienced by
those who faced the Great Drought,
326 Emerging Infectious Diseases • www.cdc.gov/eid • Vol. 17, No. 2, February 2011
... According to Hilburn and Sattler (1986), if ticks are not host specific while the host fauna is abundant (such as is the case for cattle in Turkey), the tick population should come close to "panmixia" (Hilburn & Sattler 1986). In addition, this species can find a suitable host easily and can be transported over long distances on wild mammals, such as cattle associated with humans, and also by making use of birds as vectors (Hoogstraal 1979;Rumer et al. 2011;Zeller et al. 1994;Sands et al. 2017b). Host availability is therefore, not a limiting factor in the distribution of H. marginatum. ...
... There is ample evidence that migratory birds transport ticks from Africa to Europe or vice versa (Hasle 2015;Hasle et al. 2009;Ogden et al. 2008;Scharf 2004;Alekseev et al. 2001;Bjöersdorff et al. 2001;Ishiguro et al. 2000;Smith et al. 1996;Weisbrod and Johnson 1989;Mehl et al. 1984;Nuorteva and Hoogstraal 1963;Hoogstraal et al. 1963). Especially, H. marginatum is transported over long distances by migratory birds (Palomar et al. 2013;Jameson et al. 2012;Lindeborg et al. 2012;Rumer et al. 2011;Kampen et al. 2007;Hubálek 2004;Kaiser et al. 1974). These transportations of ticks via migratory birds may have contributed to the observed homogenity of H. marginatum due to gene flow as suggested for other tick species populations (Noureddine et al. 2011;Casati et al. 2008). ...
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The hard tick Hyalomma marginatum Koch, 1844 is the main vector of Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF). Although this disease is a serious public health concern in Turkey, there is still no information about population structure and genetic diversity of this tick species. In this study, the genetic structure of H. marginatum populations collected from nine different locations of Turkey were evaluated using five microsatellite markers. A total of 75 H. marginatum samples were collected from domestic animals and genotyped. We hypothesized that localities which have high CCHF incidence rates (Bayburt, Amasya and Tokat) might be genetically distinct from the localities with low incidence rates. All approaches used in this study (DAPC, STRUCTURE and FST) showed low levels of genetic diversity. Although, no genetic pattern was observed between localities that can be associated with CCHF incidence rates, there was moderate genetic differentiation between Igdir and Tekirdag populations (FST = 0.142) and also between Igdir and Mugla populations (FST = 0.128). DAPC confirmed this finding, as Igdir, Mugla and Tekirdag populations were found to be genetically different when compared to other populations. The mechanisms underlying overall observed low genetic variation and only moderate differentiation between some of these populations should be investigated in further studies in the context of other host-parasite-vector system regulating factors such as antropogenic transports of livestock, environmental conditions and the role of migratory routes of birds.
... were also found on migrating birds, but to a lesser extent. Occasionally, adults of H. marginatum are found in northern and western European countries [16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23]. In The Netherlands, three adult Hyalomma sp. ...
... Presence of the strictly intracellular bacterium Rickettsia, of which the species aeschlimannii was found in our study in one tick, is much more often reported in Hyalomma ticks [14,17,18,19,23,51,58,69,70]. The reason for this might be that Rickettsia spp. ...
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... Later it was detected in the same tick species in Europe [66,68] and in several African countries, such as Niger, Mali and Senegal [26]. Rickettsia aeschlimannii was also identified by molecular means in ticks of the H. marginatum complex collected from birds in Pakendorf and Zerbst, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, in May 2007 [48]. However, no identification of the tick to species level was done. ...
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... were also found on migrating birds, but to a lesser extent. Occasionally, adults of H. marginatum have been found in northern and western European countries [16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23]. In the Netherlands, three adult Hyalomma sp. ...
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... Migratory birds have been reported to carry Ri. aeschlimannii infected Hy. marginatum ticks in Italy (Toma et al. 2014), Corsica (France) (Matsumoto et al. 2004), Germany (Rumer et al. 2011) and with a high prevalence rate (29-40%) in Hungary (Hornok et al. 2013). Turkey has many marshes and bird stations hosting millions of birds migrating between Europe, Asia and Africa . ...
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