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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2013 Apr;13(4):215-25. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2012.1149. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

Molecular detection of Anaplasma, Bartonella, and Borrelia species in ticks collected from migratory birds from Hong-do Island, Republic of Korea.

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Laboratory of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Research Institute for Veterinary Science and College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Korea.


Bird migration is a recurring annual and seasonal event undertaken by more than 100 species of birds in the southeast Asian and northeast Palearctic regions that pass through or remain for short periods from April to May and September to November at Hong-do Island, Republic of Korea (ROK). A total of 212 ticks (40 Haemaphysalis flava, 12 H. longicornis, 146 Ixodes turdus, 13 I. nipponensis, and 1 I. ornithophila) were collected from 65/2,161 (3.0%) migratory birds consisting of 21 species that were captured from January, 2008, through December, 2009, as part of the Migratory Birds Center, Hong-do bird banding program for studying bird migration patterns. Adult ticks were assayed individually while larvae and nymphs were pooled (1-22 and 1-6 ticks per pool, respectively) into 31 and 65 pools, respectively. Ticks were assayed for zoonotic pathogens by PCR using 16S rRNA, heat shock protein (groEL), and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) gene primers to amplify genera specific for Anapalsma, Bartonella, and Borrelia PCR amplicons. Using the 16S rRNA-based nested PCR, A. phagocytophilum (n=1) was detected in I. nipponensis collected from Zoothera sibirica and A. bovis (n=1) was detected in I. turdus collected from Emberiza chrysophrys. Borrelia turdi 16S rRNA genes (n=3) were detected in I. turdus and I. nipponensis collected from Turdus pallidus and Zoothera aurea. Borrelia spp. 16S rRNA genes (n=4) were detected in Ixodes ticks collected from Emberiza tristrami, T. pallidus, and Z. aurea. The Bartonella grahamii ITS gene (n=1) was detected by nested PCR assay in I. turdus collected from Z. aurea. These results provide insight into the potential role of migratory birds in the dispersal of ticks and associated tick-borne pathogens throughout their ranges in Asia.

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