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First molecular detection of Rickettsia africae in a tropical bont tick, Amblyomma variegatum, collected in Corsica, France

Cicculli, Vincent, de Lamballerie, Xavier, Charrel, Remi, Falchi, Alessandra
Experimental & applied acarology 2019 v.77 no.2 pp. 207-214
Amblyomma variegatum, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia africae, acarology, adults, cows, financial economics, livestock production, males, microorganisms, migratory birds, monitoring, nucleotide sequences, pathogens, ribosomal DNA, sequence analysis, slaughterhouses, ticks, villages, Corsica, France
Here we report the first detection of Amblyomma variegatum, a tick species of medical and veterinary importance, and the first molecular evidence of a pathogen, Rickettsia africae, both new to Corsica (France). In August 2018, an ixodid tick with an unusual morphology was removed from the ventral part of a cow’s whole skin in a slaughterhouse located in the village of Ponte-Leccia (Haute-Corse). The tick was morphologically identified as an adult male of A. variegatum. This result was confirmed by 16S rDNA sequence analysis with a close relative being a sequence from Senegal showing 99% nucleotide identity. We tested the tick for Ehrlichia and Rickettsia. The tick was positive to Rickettsia and the corresponding sequence matched with R. africae. There is little or no risk of the introduction and establishment of a viable population of A. variegatum in Corsica by migrating birds. However, if it did, it could produce major economic losses for livestock production. Further studies and sustained surveillance are indicated, not only focusing on this species of tick and this rickettsia, but also on other microorganisms of veterinary and medical importance that might be transmitted in Corsica and other Mediterranean islands.