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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 1998 Feb;17(2):95-100.

First isolation of Rickettsia helvetica from Ixodes ricinus ticks in France.

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Unité des Rickettsies, Université de la Méditerranée, CNRS UPRES A 6020, Faculté de Médecine, Marseille, France.


Two rickettsial isolates recovered from Ixodes ricinus ticks in Puy-de-Dôme (Central France) were characterized by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, Western blot immunoassay, restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis, and sequencing of a portion of the citrate-synthase gene. By these methods, the isolates appeared to be identical to a member of the spotted fever group rickettsiae, Rickettsia helvetica. This first isolation of Rickettsia helvetica in France has epidemiologic importance; a serosurvey on Mediterranean spotted fever conducted previously in Puy-de-Dôme, where the infection is not endemic, demonstrated a high seroprevalence of nonspecific antibodies directed against spotted fever group rickettsiae lipopolysaccharides, and thus the possibility of infection due to a rickettsia different from Rickettsia conorii was suggested. The isolation of Rickettsia helvetica in anthropophilic ticks in the same area further supports this hypothesis.

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