Northern white-breasted hedgehogs Erinaceus roumanicus as hosts for ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Romania

Mirabela Oana Dumitrache, Anamaria Ioana Paştiu, Zsuzsa Kalmár, Viorica Mircean, Attila David Sándor, Călin Mircea Gherman, Cosmin Peştean, Andrei Daniel Mihalca, Vasile Cozma
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 2013, 4 (3): 214-7
Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato and Anaplasma phagocytophilum are two tick-borne pathogens of medical and/or veterinary importance which are distributed worldwide. Erinaceus roumanicus, the Northern white-breasted hedgehog, is a common synanthropic species that is known to carry not only the hedgehog tick, Ixodes hexagonus, but also I. ricinus, the most common European tick species. I. ricinus is the main vector of both mentioned pathogens. Within this framework and because only limited information is available on the role of E. roumanicus in the ecology of B. burgdorferi s.l. and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Europe, we carried out an epidemiological surveillance on this species in Romania. From the 57 examined hedgehogs collected in 12 different counties, 24 presented tick infestation. Most ticks (n=959) were morphologically identified as larvae, nymphs, or adults of I. ricinus. The prevalence of B. burgdorferi s.l. was 0.4%, and that of A. phagocytophilum 12%. In all positive cases for B. burgdorferi s.l., restriction fragment length polymorphism revealed the genospecies B. afzelii. In Romania, only limited information is available on the epidemiology of B. burgdorferi s.l. and A. phagocytophilum. As hedgehogs commonly share the same environment with humans and other potential reservoir hosts for tick-borne pathogens, our study provides new epidemiological data of public health importance.

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