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PLoS One. 2017 Jan 6;12(1):e0169047. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169047. eCollection 2017.

Synanthropic Mammals as Potential Hosts of Tick-Borne Pathogens in Panama.

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Departamento de Investigación en Entomología Médica, Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas de Estudios de la Salud, Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá.
Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, United States of America.
Department of Pediatrics, Section of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, Texas, United States of America.
Departamento de Investigación en Parasitología, Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas de Estudios de la Salud, Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá.
Parque Municipal Summit, Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá.
El Níspero, El Valle, Coclé, Panamá.


Synanthropic wild mammals can be important hosts for many vector-borne zoonotic pathogens. The aim of this study was determine the exposure of synanthropic mammals to two types of tick-borne pathogens in Panama, spotted fever group Rickettsia (SFGR) and Borrelia relapsing fever (RF) spirochetes. One hundred and thirty-one wild mammals were evaluated, including two gray foxes, two crab-eating foxes (from zoos), four coyotes, 62 opossum and 63 spiny rats captured close to rural towns. To evaluate exposure to SFGR, serum samples from the animals were tested by indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) using Rickettsia rickettsii and Candidatus Rickettsia amblyommii antigen. Immunoblotting was performed using Borrelia turicatae protein lysates and rGlpQ, to assess infection caused by RF spirochetes. One coyote (25%) and 27 (43%) opossums showed seroreactivity to SFGR. Of these opossums, 11 were seroreactive to C. R. amblyommii. Serological reactivity was not detected to B. turicatae in mammal samples. These findings may reflect a potential role of both mammals in the ecology of tick-borne pathogens in Panama.

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