The lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum, feeds upon a variety of hosts and is a known vector of several human pathogens. In Ohio, populations of A. americanum have been expanding their range and increasing in abundance and distribution, thereby elevating the public health concerns regarding bites from this species. We used a set of PCR assays to detect the presence of ehrlichial and rickettsial species in A. americanum ticks submitted to the Ohio Department of Health Zoonotic Disease Program over an 11-year period (2000-2010). We did not detect the presence of known pathogens Rickettsia rickettsii or Ehrlichia chaffeensis, but we did identify the presence of two other bacterial species: 'Candidatus Rickettsia amblyommii', and Ehrlichia sp. Panola Mountain. 'Candidatus R. amblyommii' was the most common species identified (30.2%), whereas the ehrlichiae was quite rare (0.6%). With growing evidence implicating both 'Candidatus Rickettsia amblyommii' and Ehrlichia sp. Panola Mountain in mild to moderate human disease, our results support the importance of continued monitoring of A. americanum ticks for the presence of potential pathogens.
We report a case of scrub typhus in a 54-year-old man who was bitten by several terrestrial leeches during a trip to Chiloé Island in southern Chile in 2006. A molecular sample, identified as related to Orientia tsutsugamushi based on the sequence of the16S rRNA gene, was obtained from a biopsy specimen of the eschar on the patients leg. Serologic analysis showed immunoglobulin G conversion against O. tsutsugamushi whole cell antigen. This case and its associated molecular analyses suggest that an Orientia-like agent is present in the Western Hemisphere that can produce scrub typhus-like illness. The molecular analysis suggests that the infectious agent is closely related, although not identical, to members of the Orientia sp. from Asia.
Orientia tsutsugamushi is the etiological agent of scrub typhus, an acute, mite-borne, febrile illness that occurs in the Asia-Pacific region. Historically, strain characterization used serological analysis and revealed dramatic antigenic diversity. Eyeing a recommendation of potential vaccine candidates for broad protection, we review geographic diversity and serological and DNA prevalences. DNA analysis together with immunological analysis suggest that the prototype Karp strain and closely related strains are the most common throughout the region of endemicity. According to serological analysis, approximately 50% of isolates are seroreactive to Karp antisera, and approximately one-quarter of isolates are seroreactive to antisera against the prototype Gilliam strain. Molecular methods reveal greater diversity. By molecular methods, strains phylogenetically similar to Karp make up approximately 40% of all genotyped isolates, followed by the JG genotype group (Japan strains serotypically similar to the Gilliam strain but genetically non-Gilliam; 18% of all genotyped isolates). Three other genotype groups (Kato-related, Kawasaki-like, and TA763-like) each represent approximately 10% of genotyped isolates. Strains genetically similar to the Gilliam strain make up only 5% of isolates. Strains from these groups should be included in any potential vaccine.
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