Rickettsia amblyommii infecting Amblyomma auricularium ticks in Pernambuco, northeastern Brazil: isolation, transovarial transmission, and transstadial perpetuation

Danilo G Saraiva, Fernanda A Nieri-Bastos, Maurício C Horta, Herbert S Soares, Patricia A Nicola, Luiz Cezar M Pereira, Marcelo B Labruna
Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 2013, 13 (9): 615-8
This study investigated rickettsial infection in Amblyomma auricularium ticks from the state of Pernambuco, northeastern Brazil. An engorged female of A. auricularium collected from a skunk (Conepatus semistriatus) was sent alive to the laboratory, where the female was found through molecular analysis to be infected by Rickettsia amblyommii. This engorged female oviposited, and its offspring was reared through three consecutive generations, always using tick-naïve rabbits to feed the ticks. PCR performed on five egg pools, 10 larvae, 10 nymphs, and 10 adults of each of the three generations always yielded rickettsial DNA, indicating maintenance of rickettsial infection in the ticks by transstadial and transovarial passages. DNA sequences of random PCR products from eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults were identified as R. amblyommii. All infested rabbits seroconverted to R. amblyommii antigens at the 21(st) day after infestation, indicating that larvae, nymphs, and adults transmitted R. amblyommii through parasitism. However, no infested rabbit presented fever or any clinical alteration during the experimental period. Rickettsiae were successfully isolated from the two A. auricularium females, and the isolates were established in Vero cell culture. Molecular characterization of the isolates confirmed R. amblyommii by sequencing partial gltA, ompA, and ompB genes. From another sample of 15 A. auricularium adult ticks collected from two armadillos (Euphractus sexcinctus), eight (53.3%) were infected by R. amblyommii. This study reports R. amblyommii infecting the tick A. auricularium for the first time. This is also the first report of rickettsia infecting ticks in the northeastern region of Brazil.

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