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Open Access Research

Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis in rodents in an area with sympatric existence of the hard ticks Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus, Germany

Cornelia Silaghi1*, Dietlinde Woll2, Monia Mahling3, Kurt Pfister1 and Martin Pfeffer2

Author Affiliations

1 Comparative Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Leopoldstr. 5, D-80802, Munich, Germany

2 Institute of Animal Hygiene and Veterinary Public Health, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany

3 Statistical Consulting Unit, Department of Statistics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany

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Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:285  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-285

Published: 7 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis (CNM) has been described in the hard tick Ixodes ricinus and rodents as well as in some severe cases of human disease. The aims of this study were to identify DNA of CNM in small mammals, the ticks parasitizing them and questing ticks in areas with sympatric existence of Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus in Germany.

Methods

Blood, transudate and organ samples (spleen, kidney, liver, skin) of 91 small mammals and host-attached ticks from altogether 50 small mammals as well as questing I. ricinus ticks (n=782) were screened with a real-time PCR for DNA of CNM.

Results

52.7% of the small mammals were positive for CNM-DNA. The majority of the infected animals were yellow-necked mice (Apodemus flavicollis) and bank voles (Myodes glareolus). Small mammals with tick infestation were more often infected with CNM than small mammals without ticks. Compared with the prevalence of ~25% in the questing I. ricinus ticks, twice the prevalence in the rodents provides evidence for their role as reservoir hosts for CNM.

Conclusion

The high prevalence of this pathogen in the investigated areas in both rodents and ticks points towards the need for more specific investigation on its role as a human pathogen.

Keywords:
Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis; Bank vole; Yellow-necked mouse; Ixodes ricinus; Dermacentor reticulatus; Recreational area; Host survey; Vector-host relation