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mSphere. 2017 Apr 19;2(2). pii: e00151-17. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00151-17. eCollection 2017 Mar-Apr.

Detection of Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia microti, Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Powassan Virus in Ticks by a Multiplex Real-Time Reverse Transcription-PCR Assay.

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Center for Infection and Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
Division of Vector Control, Suffolk County Department of Public Works, Yaphank, New York, USA.


Ixodes scapularis ticks are implicated in transmission of Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia miyamotoi, Babesia microti, and Powassan virus. We describe the establishment and implementation of the first multiplex real-time PCR assay with the capability to simultaneously detect and differentiate all five pathogens in a single reaction. The application of this assay for analysis of ticks at sites in New York and Connecticut revealed a high prevalence of B. microti in ticks from Suffolk County, NY. These findings are consistent with reports of a higher incidence of babesiosis from clinicians managing the care of patients with tick-borne diseases in this region. IMPORTANCE The understanding of pathogen prevalence is an important factor in the determination of human risks for tick-borne diseases and can help guide diagnosis and treatment. The implementation of our assay addresses a critical need in surveillance of tick-borne diseases, through generation of a comprehensive assessment of pathogen prevalence in I. scapularis. Our finding of a high frequency of ticks infected with Babesia microti in Suffolk County, NY, implicates this agent as a probable frequent cause of non-Lyme tick-borne disease in this area.


Borrelia burgdorferi; babesiosis; ticks

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