Rickettsia parkeri infecting free-living Amblyomma triste ticks in the Brazilian Pantanal

Andréia L T Melo, Alvair S Alves, Fernanda A Nieri-Bastos, Thiago F Martins, Rute Witter, Thábata A Pacheco, Herbert S Soares, Arlei Marcili, Cristiane S Chitarra, Valéria Dutra, Luciano Nakazato, Richard C Pacheco, Marcelo B Labruna, Daniel M Aguiar
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 2015, 6 (3): 237-41
The present study evaluated the infection of rickettsiae in 151 Rhipicephalus sanguineus, 59 Amblyomma ovale, 166 Amblyomma triste, one Amblyomma dissimile and four Amblyomma dubitatum ticks collected in the municipality of Poconé, State of Mato Grosso, within the Pantanal biome of Brazil. Ticks were individually processed by the hemolymph test with Gimenez staining, isolation of rickettsia in Vero cell culture by the shell vial technique, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting the citrate synthase rickettsial gene. Through the shell vial technique, rickettsiae were successfully isolated and established in Vero cell culture from one free-living A. triste female tick, which previously showed to contain Rickettsia-like organisms by the hemolymph test. Molecular characterization of the rickettsial isolate was achieved through DNA partial sequences of three rickettsial genes (gltA, ompA, ompB), which showed to be all 100% identical to Rickettsia parkeri. After testing all ticks by PCR, the frequency of R. parkeri infection was 7.23% (12/166) in A. triste adult ticks. The remaining ticks were negative by PCR. This is the first report of in vitro isolation of R. parkeri in the Pantanal biome, confirming the occurrence of this emerging rickettsial pathogen in this natural area of South America.

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