Rickettsia (Rickettsiales: Rickettsiaceae) Vector Biodiversity in High Altitude Atlantic Forest Fragments Within a Semiarid Climate: A New Endemic Area of Spotted-Fever in Brazil

Leonardo Moerbeck, Vinícius F Vizzoni, Erik Machado-Ferreira, Robson C Cavalcante, Stefan V Oliveira, Carlos A G Soares, Marinete Amorim, Gilberto S Gazêta
Journal of Medical Entomology 2016, 53 (6): 1458-1466
Rickettsioses are re-emerging vector-borne zoonoses with a global distribution. Recently, Rickettsia sp. strain Atlantic rainforest has been associated with new human spotted-fever (SF) cases in Brazil, featuring particular clinical signs: eschar formation and lymphadenopathy. These cases have been associated with the tick species, Amblyomma ovale From 2010 until 2015, the Brazilian Health Department confirmed 11 human SF cases in the Maciço de Baturité region, Ceará, Brazil. The present study reports the circulation of Rickettsia spp. in vectors from this entirely new endemic area for SF. A total of 1,727 ectoparasites were collected in this area from the environment, humans, and wild and domestic animals. Samples (n = 887) were screened by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), targeting the gltA and ompA rickettsial genes. Sequencing and phylogenetic analyses of gltA gene amplicons were carried out for 13 samples positive for both screening PCRs. Fragments of gltA and ompA from three samples were cloned, sequenced, and analyzed further. A. ovale and Rhipicephalus sanguineus specimens, collected from dogs, were found to be infected with Rickettsia sp. str. Atlantic rainforest, suggesting the importance of dogs in the epidemic cycle. Candidatus Rickettsia andeanae, Rickettsia felis, and Rickettsia bellii were also found infecting ticks and fleas in five municipalities, demonstrating the broad diversity of rickettsiae in circulation in the studied area. This study reports, for the first time, evidence of infection with Rickettsia sp. strain Atlantic rainforest in A. ovale and R. sanguineus in Ceará, and Ca. R. andeanae in an Atlantic rainforest environment of Brazil.


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