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PLoS One. 2016 Oct 28;11(10):e0165784. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165784. eCollection 2016.

Molecular Detection and Genotyping of Coxiella-Like Endosymbionts in Ticks that Infest Horses in South Korea.

Author information

1
College of Veterinary Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea.
2
Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, Gimcheon, South Korea.
3
Seowon Equine Clinic, Jeju, South Korea.
4
Department of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine, Kyungpook National University School of Medicine, Daegu, South Korea.
5
Cardiovascular Research Institute, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea.

Abstract

Members of the genus Coxiella can be transmitted from ticks to humans during contact with animals; Coxiella may thus spread from the infected horses or ticks to humans. In this study, the presence of Coxiella burnetii and Coxiella-like endosymbionts (CLE) in ticks found on infested horses was determined using PCR and genotyping. A total of 213 ticks were randomly collected from 51 horses (4-5 ticks per horse) raised on Jeju Island, Korea, between 2009 and 2013. All ticks were morphologically identified as adult Haemaphysalis longicornis, a predominant tick species widespread in Korea. Based on the results of nested PCR and 16S rRNA sequencing, CLE were detected in 121 (52.4%, 95% CI: 45.9-58.8) ticks. CLE 16S rRNA sequences from 9 randomly selected ticks were 100% identical. Phylogenetic analysis showed that these 9 sequences were highly similar (97.9-100%) to the sequences of clade B species, like the CLE previously described to be found in Haemaphysalis spp. This study showed that CLE are prevalent in ticks that infest horses reared on Jeju Island, and this is, to the best of our knowledge, the first study to describe CLE occurrence in ticks infesting animals reared in Korea. Because of the high prevalence of CLE in ticks found on horses, CLE transmission from ticks to other animals and humans remains a possibility. This warrants a detailed study of other hosts and regions. Considering the zoonotic potential of Coxiella, further strategic surveillance of Coxiella transmission is necessary.

PMID:
27792764
PMCID:
PMC5085090
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0165784
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Author GHL is employed by the Seowon Equine Clinic, which has links with commercial sponsors, however this does not alter the authors' adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

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