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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2012 Dec;12(12):1019-22. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2012.0972. Epub 2012 Nov 27.

Evaluation of the presence of Rickettsia slovaca infection in domestic ruminants in Catalonia, Northeastern Spain.

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Departament de Sanitat i Anatomia Animals. Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona , Barcelona, Spain.


Rickettsia slovaca is the etiological agent of the human disease tick-borne lymphadenopathy (TIBOLA) transmitted by Dermacentor spp. ticks. In our area, Dermacentor marginatus is the most important tick vector; adult ticks feed on mammals, especially ungulates such as wild boars and domestic ruminants. The epidemiology of tick-transmitted diseases describes a wild cycle and a domestic cycle and both are connected by ticks. To identify the role of domestic ruminants in the transmission and maintenance of R. slovaca infection, blood samples from sheep (n=95), goats (n=91), and bullfighting cattle (n=100) were collected during a herd health program, and livestock grazing was selected to ensure tick contact. Samples were analyzed by serology using an indirect immunofluorescent assay (IFA) and molecular techniques (real-time PCR). Seroprevalence was 15.7% in sheep, 20.8% in goats, and 65.0% in bullfighting cattle. On the basis of molecular methods, R. slovaca infection was demonstrated in a goat blood sample with an antibody titer of 1:160. This is the first time that R. slovaca has been identified in a goat blood sample. These results suggest that domestic ruminants are exposed to R. slovaca infection and, because the domestic cycle is close to the human environment, this could increase the risk of transmitting the pathogen to human beings.

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