Rickettsial infections of dogs, horses and ticks in Juiz de Fora, southeastern Brazil, and isolation of Rickettsia rickettsii from Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks

R C Pacheco, J Moraes-Filho, E Guedes, I Silveira, L J Richtzenhain, R C Leite, M B Labruna
Medical and Veterinary Entomology 2011, 25 (2): 148-55
The present study was performed in an area endemic for Brazilian spotted fever (BSF) in Juiz de Fora, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, during the years 2007 and 2008, when fatal cases of BSF (caused by Rickettsia rickettsii) were reported. Adult ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) identified as Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille) and Amblyomma cajennense (Fabricius) were collected from dogs and horses, respectively, and tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Overall, 13.1% of the Rh. sanguineus ticks and none of the A. cajennense were found to be infected with R. rickettsii. Two isolates of R. rickettsii were successfully established in Vero cell culture from two Rh. sanguineus ticks. An indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) using R. rickettsii antigens detected blood serological reaction to R. rickettsii in 67.9% (53/78) of dogs and 41.0% (16/39) of horses living in the study area. Larval offspring from two Rh. sanguineus engorged females, naturally infected by R. rickettsii, were reared to adult stage in the laboratory. All active stages (larvae, nymphs, adults) remained 100% infected by R. rickettsii, which was efficiently transmitted to naïve rabbits. Overall, the results of the present study indicate a potential risk for transmission of R. rickettsii to humans by Rh. sanguineus, an occurrence yet to be documented in Brazil.

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