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Prevalence of Borrelia Burgdorferi sensu lato genomospecies and of the human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) agent in Ixodes ricinus ticks collected in the area of Monti Lepini, Italy.

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Abstract

Ticks are obligate hematophagous arthropods that are parasites in every class of vertebrates in most regions of the world. They are also considered to be important vectors for the transmission of human infectious diseases. In the present study we used polymer chain reaction (PCR) amplification analysis to determine the prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi and Ehrlichia phagocytophila, the agents of, respectively,
Lyme borreliosis and human granulocytic ehrlichiosis, among ticks inhabiting the area of Monti Lepini, a wild area located in the Latium Region of Italy. A total of 141 I. ricinus ticks (125 nymphs and 16 adults) were collected in the studied area. Total DNAs were extracted from I. ricinus nymphs (pooled in groups of five) and from individual adults. The DNA samples were examined for the presence of B. burgdorferi sensu lato and E. phagocytophila by PCR using two specific pairs of oligonucleotides that specifically amplify distinct DNA regions of the 16S rRNA genes of the two species. The prevalence of vectors infected with B. burgdorferi s. l. was 16% in pooled nymphs samples, and 12.5% in adult ticks, while E. phagocytophila was found only in pooled nymphs samples (8%). Three genomospecies were identified, namely Borrelia afzelii, Borrelia garinii, and Borrelia valaisiana, in samples found positive for B. burgdorferi s. l. No sample was found positive for Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto.

Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2003 May-Aug;16(2):105-8. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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