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Evidence of Babesia microti infection in multi-infected Ixodes persulcatus ticks in Russia.

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Abstract

To detect Babesia-infected Ixodes persulcatus Shulze in a suburb of St. Petersburg, Russia, 738 adult ticks were studied using Babesia specific primers and PCR techniques. The entire sample (more than 1,200 individuals) was screened for the presence of Borrelia spp., Ehrlichia spp. and tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). All 7 ticks infected with Babesia microti, were also infected with other pathogens (all 7 among 417 infected ticks, zero amongst the remaining 321 naive ones (chi2 = 5.25, p<0.05). Babesia microti occurred twice with Borrelia afzelii, 3 times with Borrelia garinii, once with both, and once with both B. garinii and TBEV. The prevalence of infection with Borrelia spp. was 34.0%, with Ehrlichia spp. 6.2%, with TBEV 1.5%, and with Ba. microti 0.9%. Babesia microti infection was not found in combination with Ehrlichia sp. or Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto. The latter pathogen (prevalence 2.6%), just like Ba. microti, was not encountered as a monoinfection. The data suggest that Ba. microti infection can only survive in I. persulcatus in combination with Borrelia spp. (7 of 7 infections). The
disease in humans is more severe and longer-lasting when more than one pathogen is involved. Our observations show that the well known St. Petersburg focus of tick-borne encephalitis and
Lyme disease is also a focus of ehrlichiosis and babesiosis.

Exp Appl Acarol. 2003;29(3-4):345-53. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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