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J Vector Ecol. 2006 Dec;31(2):386-9.

Serologic survey of Eptesicus fuscus from Georgia, U.S.A. for Rickettsia and Borrelia and laboratory transmission of a Rickettsia by bat ticks.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd. NE, MS G-13, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


Bats and their ectoparasites are associated with bacterial agents of unknown pathogenicity. We tested sera from 56 Eptesicus fuscus from Georgia against Borrelia hermsii, Orientia tsutsugamushi, Rickettsia conorii, and Rickettsia rickettsii. We detected antibodies reactive against a relapsing fever Borrelia and spotted fever group Rickettsia in 3/56 and 1/56 bats, respectively. We attempted to culture Bartonella from the blood of these bats but were unsuccessful. In addition, we fed bat ticks, Carios kelleyi, infected with Rickettsia on a specific pathogen-free guinea pig. The guinea pig had a weak seroconversion to R. rickettsii with a peak titer of 1:32 starting on day 14. Rickettsia was not detected in any of the tissue samples from the guinea pig by molecular means. Our results indicate that E. fuscus is naturally exposed to both a spotted fever group Rickettsia and a relapsing fever group Borrelia. If these agents are transmitted by bat ticks, then people living in close proximity to bat ticks might be exposed.

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