Main content area

Vector competence of the tick Ixodes sinensis (Acari: Ixodidae) for Rickettsia monacensis

Ye, Xiaodong, Sun, Yi, Ju, Wendong, Wang, Xin, Cao, Wuchun, Wu, Mingyu
Parasites & vectors 2014 v.7 no.1 pp. 512
Ixodes, Rickettsia, adults, fever, hemolymph, mice, nymphs, polymerase chain reaction, progeny, ticks, transovarial transmission, vector competence, China
BACKGROUND: Cases of Mediterranean Spotted Fever like rickettsioses, caused by Rickettsia monacensis, have become more common in the last 10 years. In China, natural infection of R. monacensis in various tick species has been confirmed but the vector(s) of R. monacensis have not been recorded. METHODS: The prevalence of R. monacensis in >1500 Ixodidae ticks from central and southern China was determined using centrifugation-shell vial culture and polymerase chain reaction techniques. The predominant species, Ixodes sinensis, harbored a natural infection of R. monacensis and was assumed to be a vector candidate of R. monacensis. Experimental transmissions were initialized by infecting Rickettsia-free tick colonies with R. monacensis using capillary tube feeding (CTF) or immersion techniques. Transstadial and transovarial transmissions, and transmission from ticks to mice, were conducted under laboratory conditions. RESULTS: R. monacensis was isolated and identified from hemolymph of Ixodes sinensis using molecular techniques. Transovarial transmission of R. monacensis from infected ♀I. sinensis to offspring was documented and infected offspring successfully passed Rickettsia to mice. Transstadial transmission rates were 58% in larva to nymph and 56% in nymph to adult stages. Infected nymphs and adults were also able to infect mice. CONCLUSIONS: I. sinensis is a competence vector for R. monacensis as demonstrated by natural infection and transmission studies.