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Experimental infection by capillary tube feeding of Rhipicephalus sanguineus with Bartonella vinsonii subspecies berkhoffii

Billeter, Sarah A., Kasten, Rick W., Killmaster, Lindsay F., Breitschwerdt, Edward B., Levin, Michael L., Levy, Michael G., Kosoy, Michael Y., Chomel, Bruno B.
Comparative immunology, microbiology, and infectious diseases 2012 v.35 no.1 pp. 9-15
Bartonella vinsonii, DNA, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, adults, dogs, egg masses, eggs, feces, females, genotype, inoculum, ticks, tube feeding
It has been speculated that ticks may serve as vectors of Bartonella species. Circumstantial, clinical, epidemiological and serological evidence suggest that B. vinsonii subspecies berkhoffii (B. v. berkhoffii) might be transmitted by Rhipicephalus sanguineus. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether adult R. sanguineus ticks can be infected with a B. v. berkhoffii genotype II isolate via capillary tube feeding and whether the infection can then be transmitted from adult females to their eggs via trans-ovarial transmission. Furthermore, tick fecal material was also collected and screened as a possible source of infectious inoculum for canine infections. B. v. berkhoffii DNA was detected in 50% (7 of 14) of females that did not oviposit and in 14.3% (2 of 14) of female ticks that laid eggs, but not detected in egg clutches (100 eggs/female). DNA was also detected in tick feces collected on days 2 through 6 post-capillary tube feeding, however, dogs (n=3) did not become bacteremic or seroconvert when inoculated with tick fecal material. Therefore, trans-ovarial transmission of B. v. berkhoffii by R. sanguineus is unlikely, but further studies are needed to determine if tick fecal material can serve as a source of infection to canines.