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Distribution of Orientia tsutsugamushi in rodents and mites collected from Central India

Akhunji, Batul, Bhate, Ruchi, Pansare, Nilesh, Chaudhari, S. P., Khan, Waqar, Kurkure, N. V., Kolte, S. W., Barbuddhe, S. B.
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2019 v.191 no.2 pp. 82
DNA, Orientia tsutsugamushi, Siphonaptera, bacteria, chiggers, genes, humans, microbial load, pathogens, public health, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, rodents, scrub typhus, seasonal variation, shrublands, small mammals, surface antigens, India
Orientia tsutsugamushi, the causative agent of scrub typhus, is an obligate intracytosolic bacterium transmitted among humans and small mammals by some species of larval trombiculid mites (chiggers). It has been recognized as a pathogen of major public health concern in the Asia-Pacific region. As disease is considered as a neglected, there exists a gap in our knowledge of the disease with regard to the sporadic epidemiologic data in endemic areas. The purpose of the study was to find out the vector as well as pathogen distribution in rodents present in the scrub typhus-reported areas in central India. We studied the seasonal variations of occurrence in O. tsutsugamushi in rodents and mites by molecular detection targeting the 56-kDa and 47-kDa genes. Rodent and mite samples were collected during December 2015 to July 2017. A total of 127 samples from rodents, seven pools of mites, and four pools of fleas were collected and processed for DNA isolation. Nested PCRs targeting the 56-kDa and 47-kDa surface antigen genes were performed. In addition, quantification of bacterial load was done by qPCR targeting the 47-kDa gene. During the pre-monsoon season, O. tsutsugamushi was detected in 12% and 10% samples employing the 56-kDa and 47-kDa nested PCRs, respectively, whereas, during post-monsoon season, the respective detection rates were 13.33% and 26.66%. This study predicted a bimodal pattern during the months of pre-monsoon and post-monsoon season with a peak in post-monsoon. Thus, the impact of season on the perpetuation of O. tsutsugamushi in the host was observed.