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      First report of Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Babesia microti in rodents in Finland.

      Vector borne and zoonotic diseases (Larchmont, N.Y.)

      Anaplasma phagocytophilum, genetics, isolation & purification, Anaplasmosis, epidemiology, microbiology, Animals, Arvicolinae, Babesia microti, Babesiosis, parasitology, DNA, Bacterial, chemistry, DNA, Protozoan, Female, Finland, Humans, Male, Public Health, Rodent Diseases, Rodentia, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Tick-Borne Diseases, Ticks, Zoonoses

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          Tick-borne diseases pose an increasingly important public health problem in Europe. Rodents are the reservoir host for many tick-transmitted pathogens, including Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Babesia microti, which can cause human granulocytic anaplasmosis and babesiosis, respectively. To estimate the presence of these pathogens in rodents in Finland, we examined blood samples from 151 bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and demonstrate, for the first time, that A. phagocytophilum and B. microti commonly infect bank voles (in 22% and 40% of animals, respectively) in Finland. Sequence analysis of a fragment of 18S rRNA showed that the B. microti strain isolated was identical to the Munich strain, which is considered to be nonzoonotic. The A. phagocytophilum strain (based on a fragment of the msp4 gene) was identical to one found earlier in rodents in the United Kingdom that is transmitted by the tick Ixodes trianguliceps, all the life stages of which feed on small mammals. The infection probability of B. microti in the bank voles was the greater the older the individual was, and males were more often infected than females. A. phagocytophilum infection probability first increased and then decreased with the age of individual without any difference between sexes. While these pathogens presumably pose a limited zoonotic risk to humans in Finland, they might have important interactions with other rodent pathogens and therefore affect infection dynamics of, for example, zoonotic pathogens.

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