JOURNAL ARTICLE

Co-infection and genetic diversity of tick-borne pathogens in roe deer from Poland

Renata Welc-Falęciak, Joanna Werszko, Krystian Cydzik, Anna Bajer, Jerzy Michalik, Jerzy M Behnke
Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 2013, 13 (5): 277-88
23473225
Wild species are essential hosts for maintaining Ixodes ticks and the tick-borne diseases. The aim of our study was to estimate the prevalence, the rate of co-infection with Babesia, Bartonella, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and the molecular diversity of tick-borne pathogens in roe deer in Poland. Almost half of the tested samples provided evidence of infection with at least 1 species. A. phagocytophilum (37.3%) was the most common and Bartonella (13.4%) the rarest infection. A total of 18.3% of all positive samples from roe deer were infected with at least 2 pathogens, and one-third of those were co-infected with A. phagocytophilum, Bartonella, and Babesia species. On the basis of multilocus molecular studies we conclude that: (1) Two different genetic variants of A. phagocytophilum, zoonotic and nonzoonotic, are widely distributed in Polish roe deer population; (2) the roe deer is the host for zoonotic Babesia (Bab. venatorum, Bab. divergens), closely related or identical with strains/species found in humans; (3) our Bab. capreoli and Bab. divergens isolates differed from reported genotypes at 2 conserved base positions, i.e., positions 631 and 663; and (4) this is the first description of Bart. schoenbuchensis infections in roe deer in Poland. We present 1 of the first complex epidemiological studies on the prevalence of Babesia, Bartonella, and A. phagocytophilum in naturally infected populations of roe deer. These game animals clearly have an important role as reservoir hosts of tick-borne pathogens, but the pathogenicity and zoonotic potential of the parasite genotypes hosted by roe deer requires further detailed investigation.

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