Molecular detection of Rickettsia rhipicephali and other spotted fever group Rickettsia species in Amblyomma ticks infesting wild birds in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Viviane Zeringóta, Ralph Maturano, Hermes Ribeiro Luz, Tatiane Oliveira Souza Senra, Erik Daemon, João Luiz Horacio Faccini, Douglas McIntosh
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 2017, 8 (1): 81-89
The current study evaluated parasitism of wild birds by ticks in a fragment of Atlantic Forest in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and examined the ticks for rickettsial agents. Birds were captured during 2014 and 2015 and ticks were identified by sequencing fragments of the 16S and 12S ribosomal DNA. Among 260 birds representing 19 families and 52 species, a total of 69 (26.5%) were found to be infested by larvae (LL) and/or nymphs (NN) of Amblyomma longirostre (Koch, 1844) (45 LL, 4 NN), Amblyomma calcaratum Neumann, 1899 (9 LL, 15 NN), Amblyomma nodosum Neumann, 1899 (2 NN), Amblyomma parkeri Fonseca and Aragão, 1952 (21 LL), Amblyomma sp. haplotype Nazaré (77 LL), and Haemaphysalis leporispalustris (Packard, 1869) (17 LL, 1 NN). The use of PCR and sequencing of the rickettsial genes gltA, htrA, ompA and ompB, revealed the presence of "Candidatus Rickettsia amblyommii" in A. longirostre (13/49; 26%) and Rickettsia parkeri (strain ApPR) in both A. parkeri (1/21; 5%) and haplotype Nazaré (42/77; 55%) ticks. In addition, we detected Rickettsia rhipicephali in 31 (40%) of the 77 haplotype Nazaré ticks. This is the first record of this rickettsial agent in a species of the genus Amblyomma. The pathogenic potential of this bacterium is undetermined, but the unprecedented association with Amblyomma ticks may represent a cause for concern for public and/or animal health.

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