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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2011 Jul;11(7):907-16. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2010.0103. Epub 2010 Dec 15.

Questing ticks in suburban forest are infected by at least six tick-borne pathogens.

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  • 1USC INRA Bartonella-Tiques, ANSES, Maisons-Alfort Cedex, France.


The role of Ixodes ricinus ticks in the transmission of pathogens of public health importance such as Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. is widely recognized and is suspected in several emerging vector-borne pathogens in Europe. Here, we assess prevalence rates of several endemic and emerging zoonotic pathogens in tick populations in an area of high human population density in France, to contribute to a risk assessment for potential transmission to humans. Pathogen prevalence rates were evaluated by polymerase chain reaction detection and sequencing in questing ticks, individually for adults and in pools of 10 for nymphs. In addition to finding micro-organisms corresponding to symbionts, we found high prevalence rates of B. burgdorferi s.l. (32% of adult females and 10% of nymphs) and low to moderate ones of Anaplasma phagocytophilum (~1%), spotted fever group Rickettsia spp. (~6%), Babesia sp. EU1 (~1%), Bartonella birtlesii (0.1%), and Francisella tularensis (!1%). Our findings extend the knowledge of the geographical distribution of these endemic and emergent pathogens and support the conclusion that ticks are important vectors of pathogenic micro-organisms in suburban forests. Moreover, tick coinfection with multiple pathogens was found to occur frequently, which poses a serious challenge for diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The incrimination of these pathogens in potentially severe pathologies requires widespread surveillance to assess the risk of infection, thereby facilitating diagnosis and treatment, as well as raising local awareness of tick-borne diseases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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