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Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2015 Apr;6(3):246-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2015.01.004. Epub 2015 Feb 11.

Molecular identification of Ehrlichia species and host bloodmeal source in Amblyomma americanum L. from two locations in Tennessee, United States.

Author information

1
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Entomology and Plant Pathology Department, United States; University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Center for Wildlife Health, United States. Electronic address: jharmon4@gmail.com.
2
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Center for Wildlife Health, United States.
3
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Entomology and Plant Pathology Department, United States.

Abstract

The current status of tick-borne diseases in the southeastern United States is challenging to define due to emerging pathogens, uncertain tick/host relationships, and changing disease case definitions. A golf-oriented retirement community on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee experienced an ehrlichiosis outbreak in 1993, prompting efforts to reduce the local tick population using '4-Poster' acaricide devices targeting white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). In 2009, the prevalence of Ehrlichia spp. in questing ticks was surveyed in the area and compared to a Tennessee state park where acaricide had not been applied. The range of wildlife hosts that immature Amblyomma americanum fed upon and the role that these hosts may play in pathogen dynamics were investigated using a reverse line blot (RLB) bloodmeal analysis technique. Amblyomma americanum was by far the most common tick species in both study areas (>99% of ticks collected). Of 303 adult and nymphal A. americanum tested at the retirement community, six were positive for Ehrlichia chaffeensis (2.0%), 16 were positive for E. ewingii (5.3%), and six were positive for Panola Mountain Ehrlichia (2.0%). This is the first confirmation of Panola Mountain Ehrlichia in A. americanum from the state of Tennessee. The 9.3% prevalence of Ehrlichia spp. in ticks from the retirement community was similar to that detected at the state park site (5.5%), suggesting that the 4-Poster treatment had not been sufficient to reduce Ehrlichia spp. cycling in the tick population. At both study sites, A. americanum fed on a wide range of mammal and bird species, with a minority of detectable bloodmeals coming from deer. Of the Ehrlichia-infected nymphs with positive bloodmeal identification, none fed on deer, indicating that multiple vertebrate species are contributing to sylvatic maintenance of Ehrlichia spp. at these sites. This highlights the difficulty of attempting to reduce the risk of tick-borne disease through host-targeted interventions alone.

KEYWORDS:

Amblyomma americanum; Bloodmeal analysis; Ehrlichiosis; Tick-borne disease; Wildlife reservoir

PMID:
25682494
DOI:
10.1016/j.ttbdis.2015.01.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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