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      Amblyomma hebraeum is the predominant tick species on goats in the Mnisi Community Area of Mpumalanga Province South Africa and is co-infected with Ehrlichia ruminantium and Rickettsia africae


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          In sub-Saharan Africa, Amblyomma ticks are vectors of heartwater disease in domestic ruminants, caused by the rickettsial pathogen Ehrlichia ruminantium. Immature tick stages often bite humans, whereby they act as vectors of tick-bite fever caused by Rickettsia africae. Moreover, Amblyomma ticks cause damage to livestock due to their feeding behaviour. In South Africa, we studied the abundance of Amblyomma hebraeum ticks on goats of emerging farmers in Mpumalanga Province. A selected number of A. hebraeum nymphs and adult ticks was tested for co-infection with E. ruminantium and R. africae.


          A total of 630 indigenous goats, belonging to farmers in the Mnisi Community area, were examined for ticks in 2013 and 2014. All ticks were identified, and a selected number was tested by PCR with reverse line blot hybridisation.


          In total, 13,132 ticks were collected from goats distributed over 17 different households. Amblyomma hebraeum was the predominant species, followed by R. microplus. Rhipicephalus appendiculatus, R. simus and R. zambeziensis were also identified. Amblyomma hebraeum was present throughout the year, with peak activity of adults in summer (November) and nymphs in winter (July). The ratio between adults and nymphs ranged from 1:2.7 in summer to 1:55.1 in winter. The mean prevalence of infection for E. ruminantium by PCR/RLB in adult ticks was 17.4% (31/178), whereas 15.7% (28/178) were infected with R. africae. In pooled nymphs, 28.4% were infected with E. ruminantium and 38.8% carried R. africae infection. Co-infections of E. ruminantium and R. africae in adult and pooled nymphal ticks were 3.9% (7/178) and 10% (14.9), respectively. Lameness of goats due to predilection of ticks for the interdigital space of their feet was observed in 89% of the households.


          Goats act as important alternative hosts for cattle ticks, which underscored the necessity to include goats in control programs. It is suggested to use acaricide-impregnated leg-bands as a sustainable method to kill ticks and prevent lameness in goats. The challenge of goats by considerable numbers of E. ruminantium-infected ticks is a major obstacle for upgrading the indigenous goat breeds. Humans may be at risk to contract tick-bite fever in this area.

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          Emerging arthropod-borne diseases of companion animals in Europe.

          Vector-borne diseases are caused by parasites, bacteria or viruses transmitted by the bite of hematophagous arthropods (mainly ticks and mosquitoes). The past few years have seen the emergence of new diseases, or re-emergence of existing ones, usually with changes in their epidemiology (i.e. geographical distribution, prevalence, and pathogenicity). The frequency of some vector-borne diseases of pets is increasing in Europe, i.e. canine babesiosis, granulocytic anaplasmosis, canine monocytic ehrlichiosis, thrombocytic anaplasmosis, and leishmaniosis. Except for the last, these diseases are transmitted by ticks. Both the distribution and abundance of the three main tick species, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Dermacentor reticulatus and Ixodes ricinus are changing. The conditions for such changes involve primarily human factors, such as travel with pets, changes in human habitats, social and leisure activities, but climate changes also have a direct impact on arthropod vectors (abundance, geographical distribution, and vectorial capacity). Besides the most known diseases, attention should be kept on tick-borne encephalitis, which seems to be increasing in western Europe, as well as flea-borne diseases like the flea-transmitted rickettsiosis. Here, after consideration of the main reasons for changes in tick vector ecology, an overview of each "emerging" vector-borne diseases of pets is presented.
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            Simultaneous detection of Anaplasma and Ehrlichia species in ruminants and detection of Ehrlichia ruminantium in Amblyomma variegatum ticks by reverse line blot hybridization.

            The detection of Anaplasma and Ehrlichia species is usually based on species-specific PCR assays, since no assay is yet available which can detect and identify these species simultaneously. To this end, we developed a reverse line blot (RLB) assay for simultaneous detection and identification of Anaplasma and Ehrlichia species in domestic ruminants and ticks. In a PCR the hypervariable V1 region of the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene was amplified with a set of primers unique for members of the genera Anaplasma and Ehrlichia [Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 51 (2001) 2145]. Amplified PCR products from blood of domestic ruminants or Amblyomma variegatum tick samples were hybridized onto a membrane to which eight species-specific oligonucleotide probes and one Ehrlichia and Anaplasma catch-all oligonucleotide probe were covalently linked. No DNA was amplified from uninfected blood, nor from other hemoparasites such as Theileria annulata, or Babesia bigemina. The species-specific probes did not cross-react with DNA amplified from other species. E. ruminantium, A. ovis and another Ehrlichia were identified by RLB in blood samples collected from small ruminants in Mozambique. Finally, A. variegatum ticks were tested after feeding on E. ruminantium infected sheep. E. ruminantium could be detected in adult ticks even if feeding of nymphs was carried out 3.5 years post-infection. In conclusion, the developed species-specific oligonucleotide probes used in an RLB assay can simultaneously detect and identify several Ehrlichia and Anaplasma species. However, as no quantitative data for the detection limit are available yet, only positive results are interpretable at this stage.
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              Rickettsia africae sp. nov., the etiological agent of African tick bite fever.

              We propose the name Rickettsia africae sp. nov. (with type strain Z9-Hu) for a distinct species of spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsiae that is the etiological agent of African tick bite fever in humans. This rickettsia has a distinct natural cycle and can be phenotypically distinguished from the other SFG rickettsiae by microimmunofluorescence serotyping, by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and by Western blotting (immunoblotting). Genotypic differences between R. africae and the other SFG rickettsiae can be demonstrated by PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene.

                Author and article information

                Parasit Vectors
                Parasit Vectors
                Parasites & Vectors
                BioMed Central (London )
                21 April 2020
                21 April 2020
                : 13
                : 172
                [1 ]GRID grid.49697.35, ISNI 0000 0001 2107 2298, Vectors and Vector-borne Diseases Research Programme, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, , University of Pretoria, ; Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort, 0110 Republic of South Africa
                [2 ]GRID grid.5477.1, ISNI 0000000120346234, Utrecht Centre for Tick-borne Diseases (UCTD), FAO Reference Centre for Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, , Utrecht University, ; Yalelaan 1, 3584 CL Utrecht, The Netherlands
                [3 ]GRID grid.4305.2, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7988, Present Address: Small Animal Hospital, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, , University of Edinburgh, ; Easter Bush Campus, Edinburgh, EH25 9RG UK
                [4 ]Present Address: Cape Cross Veterinary Hospital, 8 Jacaranda Street, Wavecrest, Jeffrey’s Bay, 6330 Republic of South Africa
                [5 ]GRID grid.49697.35, ISNI 0000 0001 2107 2298, Hans Hoheisen Research Platform, Center for Veterinary Wildlife Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, , University of Pretoria, Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station, ; Orpen, Mpumalanga Republic of South Africa
                © The Author(s) 2020

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                : 8 December 2019
                : 1 April 2020
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                © The Author(s) 2020

                amblyomma hebraeum ticks,south africa,ehrlichia ruminantium,heartwater,rickettsia africae,tick bite fever


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