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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2019 Jul 11. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2019.2489. [Epub ahead of print]

Human Seroprevalence of Tick-Borne Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Rickettsia Species in Northern California.

Author information

1
1 Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California.
2
2 Wildlife Investigations Laboratory, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Rancho Cordova, California.
3
3 Integral Ecology Research Center, Blue Lake, California.
4
4 Department of Wildlife, Humboldt State University, Arcata, California.
5
5 Wildlife Department, Hoopa Tribal Forestry, Hoopa, California.
6
6 Department of Pathology and Transfusion Medicine, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Abstract

There is a paucity of data on human exposure to tick-borne pathogens in the western United States. This study reports prevalence of antibodies against three clinically important tick-borne pathogens (Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Rickettsia spp.) among 249 people in five counties in northern California. Individuals from Humboldt County were recruited and answered a questionnaire to assess risk of exposure to tick-borne pathogens. Samples from other counties were obtained from a blood bank and were anonymized. Seventeen (6.8%) samples were seropositive for antibodies against at least one pathogen: five for A. phagocytophilum, eight for B. burgdorferi, and four for Rickettsia spp. Women and people aged 26-35 had higher seroprevalence compared to other demographic groups. Santa Cruz County had no seropositive individuals, northern Central Valley counties had three seropositive individuals (all against A. phagocytophilum), and Humboldt County had 14 (all three pathogens), a significant, four-fold elevated risk of exposure. The Humboldt County questionnaire revealed that a bird feeder in the yard was statistically associated with exposure to ticks, and lifetime number of tick bites was associated with increasing age, time watching wildlife, and time hiking. Three-quarters of respondents were concerned about tick-associated disease, 81.0% reported experiencing tick bites, and 39.0% of those bitten reported a tick-borne disease symptom, including skin lesions (76.4%), muscle aches (49.1%), joint pain (25.5%), or fever (23.6%). Despite high levels of concern, many individuals who had been bitten by a tick were not tested for a tick-borne pathogen, including those with consistent symptoms. We highlight the need for further research and dissemination of information to residents and physicians in Northern California regarding tick-associated disease, so that appropriate medical attention can be rapidly sought and administered.

KEYWORDS:

Anaplasma phagocytophilum; Borrelia burgdorferi; Lyme borreliosis; Rickettsia rickettsii; Rocky Mountain spotted fever; anaplasmosis

PMID:
31295054
DOI:
10.1089/vbz.2019.2489

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