Leishmania infantum is a widespread parasite that affects dogs and humans worldwide. It is transmitted primarily by phlebotomine sand flies, but recently there has been much discussion on the role of the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, as a potential vector for this protozoan. Recent laboratory and field investigations have contributed to this hypothesis, but a proof of the vector capacity of R. sanguineus has yet to be provided. Following a recent study suggesting that L. infantum passes transovarially from the female tick to her progeny the current study provides new evidence of the transovarial transmission of L. infantum in R. sanguineus.
Engorged females of R. sanguineus were collected from the environment in a dog shelter of southern Italy, where canine leishmaniosis is endemic. In the laboratory, 97 females that successfully laid eggs, their eggs and the originated larvae were subjected to DNA extraction and then tested by a TaqMan-based real time PCR targeting a fragment of the kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) of L. infantum.
Results and conclusions
L. infantum kDNA was detected in engorged females, their eggs and originating larvae, with a parasite load ranging from 1.8 × 10-4 to 10.0 × 100. Certainly, the current study provides further evidence on the passage of L. infantum from R. sanguineus females to their offspring. The observation of promastigote forms in larvae is necessary to definitively confirm this hypothesis, which would raise interesting questions about the possible role of ticks in the maintenance of L. infantum infection among dogs in certain areas.
Sand flies are the only biologically adapted vectors of Leishmania parasites, however, a possible role in the transmission of Leishmania has been proposed for other hematophagous ectoparasites such as ticks. In order to evaluate natural infection by Leishmania infantum in Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks, taking into account its close association with dogs, 128 adult R. sanguineus ticks removed from 41 dogs living in endemic areas of canine leishmaniosis were studied.
Individual DNA extraction was performed from each tick and whole blood taken from dogs. Dog sera were tested for IgG antibodies to L. infantum antigen by ELISA and L. infantum real-time PCR was performed from canine whole blood samples and ticks.
Leishmania infantum PCR was positive in 13 ticks (10.1%) including one female, (2.0%) and 12 males (15.2%), and in only five dogs (12.2%). Male ticks had a significantly higher infection rate when compared to female R. sanguineus. The percentage of L. infantum seroreactive dogs was 19.5%. All but two PCR positive dogs were seroreactive. Leishmania infantum PCR positive ticks were removed from seropositive and seronegative dogs with a variety of PCR results.
This study demonstrates high prevalence of L. infantum DNA in R. sanguineus ticks removed from L. infantum seropositive and seronegative dogs. The presence of L. infantum DNA was detected mainly in male ticks possibly due to their ability to move between canine hosts and feed on several canine hosts during the adult life stage. Additional studies are needed to further explore the role of R. sanguineus ticks and in particular, male adults, in both the epidemiology and immunology of L. infantum infection in dogs in endemic areas.
Leishmania infantum; Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks; PCR; Dog
The taxonomic status of the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu stricto), which has long been regarded as the most widespread tick worldwide and a vector of many pathogens to dogs and humans, is currently under dispute.
We conducted a comprehensive morphological and genetic study of 278 representative specimens, which belonged to different species (i.e., Rhipicephalus bursa, R. guilhoni, R. microplus, R. muhsamae, R. pusillus, R. sanguineus sensu lato, and R. turanicus) collected from Europe, Asia, Americas, and Oceania. After detailed morphological examination, ticks were molecularly processed for the analysis of partial mitochondrial (16S rDNA, 12S rDNA, and cox1) gene sequences.
In addition to R. sanguineus s.l. and R. turanicus, three different operational taxonomic units (namely, R. sp. I, R. sp. II, and R. sp. III) were found on dogs. These operational taxonomical units were morphologically and genetically different from R. sanguineus s.l. and R. turanicus. Ticks identified as R. sanguineus s.l., which corresponds to the so-called “tropical species” (=northern lineage), were found in all continents and genetically it represents a sister group of R. guilhoni. R. turanicus was found on a wide range of hosts in Italy and also on dogs in Greece.
The tropical species and the temperate species (=southern lineage) are paraphyletic groups. The occurrence of R. turanicus in the Mediterranean region is confirmed. A consensual re-description of R. sanguineus s.s. and R. turanicus will be necessary to solve the taxonomic problems within the so-called R. sanguineus group.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus; Taxonomy; Morphology; Phylogeny
Ticks are mites specialized in acquiring blood from vertebrates as their sole source of food and are important disease vectors to humans and animals. Among the specializations required for this peculiar diet, ticks evolved a sophisticated salivary potion that can disarm their host’s hemostasis, inflammation, and immune reactions. Previous transcriptome analysis of tick salivary proteins has revealed many new protein families indicative of fast evolution, possibly due to host immune pressure. The hard ticks (family Ixodidae) are further divided into two basal groups, of which the Metastriata have 11 genera. While salivary transcriptomes and proteomes have been described for some of these genera, no tick of the genus Hyalomma has been studied so far. The analysis of 2,084 expressed sequence tags (EST) from a salivary gland cDNA library allowed an exploration of the proteome of this tick species by matching peptide ions derived from MS/MS experiments to this data set. We additionally compared these MS/MS derived peptide sequences against the proteins from the bovine host, finding many host proteins in the salivary glands of this tick. This annotated data set can assist the discovery of new targets for anti-tick vaccines as well as help to identify pharmacologically active proteins.
Tick; hematophagy; salivary glands; sialome
The acquisition and transmission of rickettsial pathogens by different tick developmental stages has important epidemiological implications. The purpose of this study was to determine if male Rhipicephalus sanguineus can experimentally acquire and transmit Ehrlichia canis in the absence of female ticks. Two trials were performed where nymphal and male R. sanguineus were simultaneously acquisition fed on the same infected donor hosts, and transstadially or intrastadially exposed male ticks were fed on separate pathogen-free dogs as a test for transmission. A single-step p30-based PCR assay was used to test canine and tick hosts for E. canis infections before and after tick feeding. E. canis was detected after either intrastadial or transstadial passage in male ticks, the organism remained detectable in both tick groups after transmission feeding, and both tick groups transmitted the rickettsia to susceptible dogs. Infection of dogs via tick feeding resulted in milder clinical signs and lower antibody titers than intravenous inoculation of carrier blood, but further investigation is needed to understand the mechanisms responsible for this observation. These results demonstrate that male R. sanguineus can take multiple feedings, and that they can both acquire and transmit E. canis in the absence of female ticks. This tick development stage could be important in transmission of E. canis, and perhaps related pathogens, between vertebrate hosts under natural and experimental conditions.
Ehrlichia canis; Canine monocytic ehrlichiosis; Tick transmission; Rhipicephalus sanguineus; Metastriata
Doxycycline is the treatment of choice for canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME), a well-characterized disease and valuable model for tick-borne zoonoses. Conflicting reports of clearance of Ehrlichia canis after treatment with doxycycline suggested that the disease phase during which treatment is initiated influences outcomes of these treatments. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a 28-day doxycycline regimen for clearance of experimental E. canis infections from dogs treated during three phases of the disease. Ten dogs were inoculated with blood from E. canis carriers and treated with doxycycline during acute, subclinical, or chronic phases of CME. Daily rectal temperatures and semiweekly blood samples were monitored from each dog, and Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks were acquisition fed on each dog for xenodiagnosis. Blood collected from dogs treated during acute or subclinical CME became PCR negative for E. canis as clinical parameters improved, but blood samples collected from dogs treated during chronic CME remained intermittently PCR positive. R. sanguineus ticks fed on dogs after doxycycline treatments became PCR positive for E. canis, regardless of when treatment was initiated. However, fewer ticks became PCR positive after feeding on two persistently infected dogs treated with doxycycline followed by rifampin, suggesting that antibiotic therapy can reduce tick acquisition of E. canis.
We previously culture isolated a strain of Ehrlichia canis, the causative agent of canine ehrlichiosis, from a human in Venezuela. In the present study, we examined whether dogs and ticks are infected with E. canis in Venezuela and, if so, whether this is the same strain as the human isolate. PCR analysis using E. canis-specific primers revealed that 17 of the 55 dog blood samples (31%) and all three pools of four Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks each were positive. An ehrlichial agent (Venezuelan dog Ehrlichia [VDE]) was isolated and propagated in cell culture from one dog sample and was further analyzed to determine its molecular and antigenic characteristics. The 16S rRNA 1,408-bp sequence of the new VDE isolate was identical to that of the previously reported Venezuelan human Ehrlichia isolate (VHE) and was closely related (99.9%) to that of E. canis Oklahoma. The 5′ (333-bp) and 3′ (653-bp) sequences of the variable regions of the 16S rRNA genes from six additional E. canis-positive dog blood specimens and from three pooled-tick specimens were also identical to those of VHE. Western blot analysis of serum samples from three dogs infected with VDE by using several ehrlichial antigens revealed that the antigenic profile of the VDE was similar to the profiles of VHE and E. canis Oklahoma. Identical 16S rRNA gene sequences among ehrlichial organisms from dogs, ticks, and a human in the same geographic region in Venezuela and similar antigenic profiles between the dog and human isolates suggest that dogs serve as a reservoir of human E. canis infection and that R. sanguineus, which occasionally bites humans residing or traveling in this region, serves as a vector. This is the first report of culture isolation and antigenic characterization of an ehrlichial agent from a dog in South America, as well as the first molecular characterization of E. canis directly from naturally infected ticks.
Ehrlichia canis, an obligatory intracellular bacterium of monocytes and macrophages, causes canine monocytic ehrlichiosis. E. canis immunodominant 30-kDa major outer membrane proteins are encoded by a polymorphic multigene family consisting of more than 20 paralogs. In the present study, we analyzed the mRNA expression of 14 paralogs in experimentally infected dogs and Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks by reverse transcription-PCR using gene-specific primers followed by Southern blotting. Eleven out of 14 paralogs in E. canis were transcribed in increasing numbers and transcription levels, while the mRNA expression of the 3 remaining paralogs was not detected in blood monocytes of infected dogs during the 56-day postinoculation period. Three different groups of R. sanguineus ticks (adult males and females and nymphs) were separately infected with E. canis by feeding on the infected dogs. In these pools of acquisition-fed ticks as well as in the transmission-fed adult ticks, the transcript from only one paralog was detected, suggesting the predominant transcription of that paralog or the suppression of the remaining paralogs in ticks. Expression of the same paralog was higher whereas expression of the remaining paralogs was lower in E. canis cultivated in dog monocyte cell line DH82 at 25°C than in E. canis cultivated at 37°C. Analysis of differential expression of p30 multigenes in dogs, ticks, or monocyte cell cultures would help in understanding the role of these gene products in pathogenesis and E. canis transmission as well as in designing a rational vaccine candidate immunogenic against canine ehrlichiosis.
American canine hepatozoonosis (ACH) is a tick-borne disease that is spreading in the southeastern and south-central United States. Characterized by marked leukocytosis and periosteal bone proliferation, ACH is very debilitating and often fatal. Dogs acquire infection by ingesting nymphal or adult Gulf Coast ticks (Amblyomma maculatum) that, in a previous life stage, ingested the parasite in a blood meal taken from some vertebrate intermediate host. ACH is caused by the apicomplexan Hepatozoon americanum and has been differentiated from Old World canine hepatozoonosis caused by H. canis. Unlike H. canis, which is transmitted by the ubiquitous brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), H. americanum is essentially an accidental parasite of dogs, for which Gulf Coast ticks are not favored hosts. The geographic portrait of the disease parallels the known distribution of the Gulf Coast tick, which has expanded in recent years. Thus, the endemic cycle of H. americanum involves A. maculatum as definitive host and some vertebrate intermediate host(s) yet to be identified. Although coyotes (Canis latrans) are known to be infected, it is not known how important this host is in maintaining the endemic cycle. This review covers the biology of the parasite and of the tick that transmits it and contrasts ACH with classical canine hepatozoonosis. Clinical aspects of the disease are discussed, including diagnosis and treatment, and puzzling epidemiologic issues are examined. Brief consideration is given to the potential for ACH to be used as a model for study of angiogenesis and of hypertrophic osteoarthropathy.
The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) is the most widespread tick in the world and a well-recognized vector of many pathogens affecting dogs and occasionally humans. This tick can be found on dogs living in both urban and rural areas, being highly adapted to live within human dwellings and being active throughout the year not only in tropical and subtropical regions, but also in some temperate areas. Depending on factors such as climate and host availability, Rh. sanguineus can complete up to four generations per year. Recent studies have demonstrated that ticks exposed to high temperatures attach and feed on humans and rabbits more rapidly. This observation suggests that the risk of human parasitism by Rh. sanguineus could increase in areas experiencing warmer and/or longer summers, consequently increasing the risk of transmission of zoonotic agents (e.g., Rickettsia conorii and Rickettsia rickettsii). In the present article, some aspects of the biology and ecology of Rh. sanguineus ticks are discussed including the possible impact of current climate changes on populations of this tick around the world.
The presence, internal distribution, and phylogenetic position of endosymbiotic bacteria from four species of specific-pathogen-free ticks were studied. These included the hard ticks Ixodes scapularis (the black-legged tick), Rhipicephalus sanguineus (the brown dog tick), and Haemaphysalis longicornis and the African soft tick Ornithodoros moubata. PCR assays for bacteria, using two sets of general primers for eubacterial 16S and 23S rRNA genes (rDNAs) and seven sets of specific primers for wolbachial, rickettsial, or Francisella genes, indicated that I. scapularis possessed symbiotic rickettsiae in the ovaries and that the other species harbored eubacteria in both the ovaries and Malpighian tubules. Phylogenetic analysis based on the sequence of 16S rDNA indicated that the symbiont of I. scapularis belonged to the alpha subgroup of proteobacteria and was closely related to the members of the genus Rickettsia. The other species had similar microorganisms in the ovaries and Malpighian tubules, which belonged to the gamma subgroup of proteobacteria, and formed a monophyletic group with the Q-fever pathogen, Coxiella burnetii. O. moubata harbored another symbiont, which formed a monophyletic group with Francisella tularensis and Wolbachia persica, the latter a symbiont previously isolated from Malpighian tubules of the soft tick Argas (Persicargas) arboreus. Thus, the symbionts of these four tick species were not related to the Wolbachia species found in insects. The two symbionts that live in the Malpighian tubules, one closely related to C. burnetii and the other closely related to F. tularensis, appear to be of ancient origin and be widely distributed in ticks.
Rickettsia conorii conorii is the etiological agent of Mediterranean spotted fever, which is transmitted by the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. The relationship between the Rickettsia and its tick vector are still poorly understood one century after the first description of this disease.
An entomological survey was organized in Algeria to collect ticks from the houses of patients with spotted fever signs. Colonies of R. conorii conorii-infected and non-infected ticks were established under laboratory conditions. Gimenez staining and electron microscopy on the ovaries of infected ticks indicated heavy rickettsial infection. The transovarial transmission of R. conorii conorii in naturally infected Rh. sanguineus ticks was 100% at eleven generations, and the filial infection rate was up to 99% according to molecular analyses. No differences in life cycle duration were observed between infected and non-infected ticks held at 25°C, but the average weight of engorged females and eggs was significantly lower in infected ticks than in non-infected ticks. The eggs, larvae and unfed nymphs of infected and non-infected ticks could not tolerate low (4°C) or high (37°C) temperatures or long starvation periods. R. conorii conorii-infected engorged nymphs that were exposed to a low or high temperature for one month experienced higher mortality when they were transferred to 25°C than non-infected ticks after similar exposure. High mortality was observed in infected adults that were maintained for one month at a low or high temperature after tick-feeding on rabbits.
These preliminary results suggest that infected quiescent ticks may not survive the winter and may help explain the low prevalence of infected Rh. sanguineus in nature. Further investigations on the influence of extrinsic factors on diapaused R. conorii-infected and non-infected ticks are required.
The bacterium Rickettsia conorii conorii is the etiological agent of Mediterranean spotted fever (MSF), which is a life-threatening infectious disease that is transmitted by Rhipicephalus sanguineus, the brown dog tick. Rh. sanguineus-R. conorii conorii relationships in the wild are still poorly understood one century after the discovery of the disease. In this study, we collected naturally infected ticks from the houses of people afflicted by MSF in Algeria. Colonies of both infected and non-infected ticks were maintained in our laboratory, and we studied the effect of temperature variations on the infected and non-infected ticks. We did not observe any major differences between the biological life cycle of the infected and non-infected ticks held at 25°C. However, a comparatively higher mortality relative to the control group was noticed when R. conorii conorii-infected engorged nymphs and adults were exposed to a low temperature (4°C) or high temperature (37°C) for one month and transferred to 25°C. R. conorii conorii-infected Rh. sanguineus may maintain and serve as reservoirs for the Rickettsia if they are not exposed to cold temperatures. New populations of ticks might become infected with Rickettsiae when feeding on a bacteremic animal reservoir.
Boutonneuse fever caused by Rickettsia conorii is transmitted mainly by the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. We collected 540 ticks in Marseille, France, and tried to isolate as many strains of rickettsia as possible. Ticks were evaluated for the presence of rickettsia by the hemolymph test and by a new culture system, the centrifugation-shell vial technique. We avoided contamination in the culture system. Prior to ticks being submitted to the hemolymph test, they were disinfected. Only 5.6% (27 of 478) of the cultures were contaminated. A drop of hemolymph from each of 478 R. sanguineus ticks was cultured in two shell vials, and another drop was stained by the Gimenez method or indirect immunofluorescence. Since Gimenez staining in our hands was not satisfactory, comparison of the hemolymph test and culture is based on the results of indirect immunofluorescence. Thus, 50 of 369 (13.5%) examined ticks were hemolymph test positive, and 44 (11.9%) cultures were positive. After disinfection, another pool of 62 ticks were examined by the hemolymph test. The ticks were kept individually in a sterile environment. A few days later, the hemolymph of these ticks was collected again and cultured. The contamination rate was not significantly higher (6.4%) than in the above-described conditions. It allowed us to isolate eight more strains. Thus, we recommend screening ticks with the hemolymph test and culturing only the hemolymph test-positive ticks.
Considering the fact that the dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, has a great potential to become the vector of Brazilian Spotted Fever (BSF) for humans, the present study aimed to describe the distribution of the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii, the etiological agent of BSF, in different regions of the ovaries of R. sanguineus using histological techniques. The ovaries were obtained from positive females confirmed by the hemolymph test and fed in the nymph stage on guinea pigs inoculated with R. rickettsii.
The results showed a general distribution of R. rickettsii in the ovary cells, being found in oocytes in all stages of development (I, II, III, IV and V) most commonly in the periphery of the oocyte and also in the cytoplasm of pedicel cells.
The histological analysis of the ovaries of R. sanguineus infected females confirmed the presence of the bacterium, indicating that the infection can interfere negatively in the process of reproduction of the ticks, once alterations were detected both in the shape and cell structure of the oocytes which contained bacteria.
Rickettsia rickettsii; Rhipicephalus sanguineus; Brazilian Spotted Fever; ovary; histology
Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks transmit Ehrlichia canis, the etiologic agent of canine ehrlichiosis. In experimentally infected ticks, only p30-10 transcript was detected among 22 p30 paralogs encoding immunodominant major outer membrane P30 proteins of E. canis. The present study revealed transcription of p30-10 by E. canis in naturally infected ticks and sequence conservation of p30-10 genes for E. canis from diverse geographic regions.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks (n=63) collected from five dogs (two adults and three puppies) housed in a kennel were screened for ehrlichial agents (E. canis, E. chaffeensis and E. ewingii) using a species-specific multicolor real-time TaqMan PCR amplification of the (disulphide bond formation protein (dsb) gene. E. chaffeensis DNA was detected in 33 (56 %) ticks, E. canis DNA was detected in four (6 %) ticks, and one tick was coinfected. The E. chaffeensis and E. canis nucleotide sequences of the amplified dsb gene (374-bp) obtained from the Cameroonian R. sanguineus ticks were identical to the North American genotypes.
R. sanguineus; Ehrlichia chaffeensis; Ehrlichia canis; Zoonosis; Cameroon
Human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis (HME) is an emerging tick-transmitted zoonosis in the United States caused by Ehrlichia chaffeensis. Ehrlichia canis, E, chaffeensis and E. ewingii have recently been detected in dogs and Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks from Cameroon; thus the potential exists for human infections. The objective of this study was to determine if Ehrlichia species were associated with acute fevers of unknown etiology in patients from the coastal region of Cameroon. E. chaffeensis was detected in peripheral blood from 12 (10%) of 118 patients using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the genus-specific disulfide bond (dsb) formation protein gene. Furthermore, DNA sequencing of PCR amplicons revealed that the dsb gene sequence was identical to E. chaffeensis (Arkansas strain). Patients with detectable E. chaffeensis DNA had clinical manifestations that included fever, headache, myalgia, arthralgia, pulmonary involvement, and diffuse rash.
Saliva of blood sucking arthropods contains compounds that antagonize their hosts' hemostasis, which include platelet aggregation, vasoconstriction and blood clotting; saliva of these organisms also has anti-inflammatory and immunomodullatory properties. Perhaps because hosts mount an active immune response against these compounds, the diversity of these compounds is large even among related blood sucking species. Because of these properties, saliva helps blood feeding as well as help the establishment of pathogens that can be transmitted during blood feeding.
We have obtained 1,626,969 reads by pyrosequencing a salivary gland cDNA library from adult females Amblyomma maculatum ticks at different times of feeding. Assembly of this data produced 72,441 sequences larger than 149 nucleotides from which 15,914 coding sequences were extracted. Of these, 5,353 had >75% coverage to their best match in the non-redundant database from the National Center for Biotechnology information, allowing for the deposition of 4,850 sequences to GenBank. The annotated data sets are available as hyperlinked spreadsheets. Putative secreted proteins were classified in 133 families, most of which have no known function.
This data set of proteins constitutes a mining platform for novel pharmacologically active proteins and for uncovering vaccine targets against A. maculatum and the diseases they carry.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Hyalomma marginatum are the most common species in sheep herds in Northeast of Iran. There is preliminary evidence that these species may be the vectors of Babesia ovis in Iran. We carried out two experiments in Mashhad area, Khorasan Razavi Province to determine whether B. ovis could be transovarially transmitted by R. sanguineus and H. marginatum.
In experiment 1, adults of laboratory reared H. marginatum and R.sanguineus were infected with B. ovis isolated from naturally infected sheep in Mashhad area by feeding the ticks on the sheep inoculated intravenously by infected blood samples. The inoculated sheep showed clinical signs with parasitaemia while the adult ticks were engorging on them. The engorged females were collected and kept at 28°C and 85% relative humidity in incubator. Then, larval, nymphal and adult stages derived from engorged females were used to infest the clean sheep. In experiment 2, two splenectomized sheep were infested only with the same adult ticks of two species.
Examination of smears and PCR of blood samples to detect of B. ovis in infested sheep in two experiments were negative.
It seems that R. sanguineus and H. marginatum can not transovarially transmit B. ovis in sheep.
Experimental transmission; Babesia ovis; Rhipicephalus sanguineus; Hyalomma. marginatum; Sheep
Only limited information is currently available on the prevalence of vector borne and zoonotic pathogens in dogs and ticks in Nigeria. The aim of this study was to use molecular techniques to detect and characterize vector borne pathogens in dogs and ticks from Nigeria.
Blood samples and ticks (Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Rhipicephalus turanicus and Heamaphysalis leachi) collected from 181 dogs from Nigeria were molecularly screened for human and animal vector-borne pathogens by PCR and sequencing. DNA of Hepatozoon canis (41.4%), Ehrlichia canis (12.7%), Rickettsia spp. (8.8%), Babesia rossi (6.6%), Anaplasma platys (6.6%), Babesia vogeli (0.6%) and Theileria sp. (0.6%) was detected in the blood samples. DNA of E. canis (23.7%), H. canis (21.1%), Rickettsia spp. (10.5%), Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis (5.3%) and A. platys (1.9%) was detected in 258 ticks collected from 42 of the 181 dogs. Co- infections with two pathogens were present in 37% of the dogs examined and one dog was co-infected with 3 pathogens. DNA of Rickettsia conorii israelensis was detected in one dog and Rhipicephalus sanguineus tick. DNA of another human pathogen, Candidatus N. mikurensis was detected in Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Heamaphysalis leachi ticks, and is the first description of Candidatus N. mikurensis in Africa. The Theileria sp. DNA detected in a local dog in this study had 98% sequence identity to Theileria ovis from sheep.
The results of this study indicate that human and animal pathogens are abundant in dogs and their ticks in Nigeria and portray the potential high risk of human exposure to infection with these agents.
In Nigeria, dogs are not only kept as pets, but are also used for hunting as well as a source of animal protein among some ethnic groups. Ticks are known to infest dogs and serve as vectors for some pathogens of zoonotic and veterinary importance. There is limited information on the prevalence and distribution of vector borne pathogens in dogs and ticks in Nigeria. The aim of the study was to detect and characterize vector borne pathogens in dogs and ticks from Nigeria using molecular methods. The results of this study showed a high estimate of vector borne pathogens in Nigerian dogs (77.3%) and ticks (63.3%). DNA of Candidatus N. mikurensis, an emerging pathogen of humans was detected in Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Heamaphysalis leachi ticks. Another human pathogen, Rickettsia conorii israelensis the causative agent of Mediterranean spotted fever was detected in Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks. This is the first description of Candidatus N. mikurensis in Africa and Rickettsia conorii israelensis in Nigeria. These results indicate that the use of molecular techniques for the diagnosis of emerging infections in developing countries is of utmost importance in assisting physicians and veterinarians in making accurate diagnoses and providing the appropriate treatment for their patients.
The impact of climate on the vector behaviour of the worldwide dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus is a cause of concern. This tick is a vector for life-threatening organisms including Rickettsia rickettsii, the agent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, R. conorii, the agent of Mediterranean spotted fever, and the ubiquitous emerging pathogen R. massiliae. A focus of spotted fever was investigated in France in May 2007. Blood and tissue samples from two patients were tested. An entomological survey was organised with the study of climatic conditions. An experimental model was designed to test the affinity of Rh. sanguineus for biting humans in variable temperature conditions. Serological and/or molecular tools confirmed that one patient was infected by R. conorii, whereas the other was infected by R. massiliae. Dense populations of Rh. sanguineus were found. They were infected with new genotypes of clonal populations of either R. conorii (24/133; 18%) or R. massiliae (13/133; 10%). April 2007 was the warmest since 1950, with summer-like temperatures. We show herein that the human affinity of Rh. sanguineus was increased in warmer temperatures. In addition to the originality of theses cases (ophthalmic involvements, the second reported case of R. massiliae infection), we provide evidence that this cluster of cases was related to a warming-mediated increase in the aggressiveness of Rh. sanguineus, leading to increased human attacks. From a global perspective, we predict that as a result of globalisation and warming, more pathogens transmitted by the brown dog tick may emerge in the future.
The impact of climate on the behaviour of the worldwide dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus is a cause of concern. This tick is a vector for life-threatening organisms including Rickettsia rickettsii, the agent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, R. conorii, the agent of Mediterranean spotted fever, and the ubiquitous emerging pathogen R. massiliae. A focus of spotted fever was investigated in France in May 2007. One patient was found to be infected by R. conorii, whereas the other was infected by R. massiliae. Theses cases were original because of ophthalmic involvements, and the report of the second case of R. massiliae infection in the scientific literature. During an entomological survey, dense populations of Rh. sanguineus were found in the house where the patient had been bitten by ticks. Ticks were infected with either R. conorii or R. massiliae. Interestingly, April 2007 was the warmest since 1950, with summer-like temperatures. In this work, we show that the human affinity of Rh. sanguineus is increased in warmer temperatures, and provide evidence that this cluster of cases was related to a warming-mediated increase in the aggressiveness of Rh. sanguineus, leading to increased human attacks. From a global perspective, we predict that as a result of globalisation and warming, more pathogens transmitted by the brown dog tick may emerge in the future.
Dogs are the most common pet animals worldwide. They may harbour a wide range of parasites with zoonotic potential, thus causing a health risk to humans. In Nigeria, epidemiological knowledge on these parasites is limited.
In a community-based study, we examined 396 dogs in urban and rural areas of Ilorin (Kwara State, Central Nigeria) for ectoparasites and intestinal helminths. In addition, a questionnaire regarding knowledge and practices was applied to pet owners.
Nine ectoparasite species belonging to four taxa and six intestinal helminth species were identified: fleas (Ctenocephalides canis, Pulex irritans, Tunga penetrans), mites (Demodex canis, Otodectes sp., Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis), ticks (Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Ixodes sp.), and lice (Trichodectes canis); and Toxocara canis, Ancylostoma sp., Trichuris vulpis, Dipylidium caninum, Taenidae and Strongyloides sp. Overall prevalence of ectoparasites was 60.4% and of intestinal helminths 68.4%. The occurrence of C. canis, R. sanguineus, T. canis, Ancylostoma sp. and T. vulpis was most common (prevalence 14.4% to 41.7%). Prevalence patterns in helminths were age-dependent, with T. canis showing a decreasing prevalence with age of host, and a reverse trend in other parasite species. Knowledge regarding zoonoses was very limited and the diseases not considered a major health problem. Treatment with antiparasitic drugs was more frequent in urban areas.
Parasites of importance for human health were highly prevalent in Nigerian dogs. Interventions should include health education provided to dog owners and the establishment of a program focusing on zoonotic diseases.
Canine hepatozoonosis is caused by Hepatozoon canis and Hepatozoon americanum, apicomplexan parasites transmitted to dogs by ingestion of infectious stages. Although the two agents are phylogenetically related, specific aspects, including characteristics of clinical disease and the natural history of the parasites themselves, differ between the two species. Until recently, H. canis infections had not been clearly documented in North America, and autochthonous infection with H. americanum has yet to be reported outside of the southern United States. However, recent reports demonstrate H. canis is present in areas of North America where its vector tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, has long been endemic, and that the range of H. americanum is likely expanding along with that of its vector tick, Amblyomma maculatum; co-infections with the two organisms have also been identified. Significant intraspecific variation has been reported in the 18S rRNA gene sequence of both Hepatozoon spp.-infecting dogs, suggesting that each species may represent a complex of related genogroups rather than well-defined species. Transmission of H. americanum to dogs via ingestion of cystozoites in muscle of infected vertebrates was recently demonstrated, supporting the concept of predation as a means of natural transmission. Although several exciting advances have occurred in recent years, much remains to be learned about patterns of infection and the nature of clinical disease caused by the agents of canine hepatozoonosis in North America.
Thirty-two Rhipicephalus sanguineus females collected from eight free-roaming dogs in Okinawa Island, Japan, were examined for ehrlichial DNA by 16S rRNA-based PCR and subsequent sequencing. Partial sequences of Ehrlichia platys 16S rRNA (678 to 679 bp) were detected in three ticks (9.4%) from two dogs. This is the first report of detection of E. platys in Japan, and also the first report of detection in ticks.
Bovines present contrasting, heritable phenotypes of infestations with the cattle tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus. Tick salivary glands produce IgG-binding proteins (IGBPs) as a mechanism for escaping from host antibodies that these ectoparasites ingest during blood meals. Allotypes that occur in the constant region of IgG may differ in their capacity to bind with tick IGBPs; this may be reflected by the distribution of distinct allotypes according to phenotypes of tick infestations. In order to test this hypothesis, we investigated the frequency of haplotypes of bovine IgG2 among tick-resistant and tick-susceptible breeds of bovines. Sequencing of the gene coding for the heavy chain of IgG2 from 114 tick-resistant (Bos taurus indicus, Nelore breed) and tick-susceptible (B. t. taurus, Holstein breed) bovines revealed SNPs that generated 13 different haplotypes, of which 11 were novel and 5 were exclusive of Holstein and 3 of Nelore breeds. Alignment and modeling of coded haplotypes for hinge regions of the bovine IgG2 showed that they differ in the distribution of polar and hydrophobic amino acids and in shape according to the distribution of these amino acids. We also found that there was an association between genotypes of the constant region of the IgG2 heavy chain with phenotypes of tick infestations. These findings open the possibility of investigating if certain IgG allotypes hinder the function of tick IGBPs. If so, they may be markers for breeding for resistance against tick infestations.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00251-011-0515-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Bovine IgG2; Allotypes; Haplotypes; Hinge region; Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus