Article ID: 15-0170
Ticks carry and transmit a remarkable array of pathogens including bacteria, protozoa and viruses, which may be of veterinary and/or of medical significance. With little to no information regarding the presence of tick-borne zoonotic pathogens or their known vectors in southern Africa, the aim of our study was to screen for Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi, Coxiella burnetii, Rickettsia species and Ehrlichia ruminantium in ticks collected and identified from ruminants in the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Provinces of South Africa. The most abundant tick species identified in this study were Rhipicephalus evertsi evertsi (40%), Rhipicephalus species (35%), Amblyomma hebraeum (10%) and Rhipicephalus decoloratus (14%). A total of 1,634 ticks were collected. DNA was extracted, and samples were subjected to PCR amplification and sequencing. The overall infection rates of ticks with the target pathogens in the four Provinces were as follows: A. phagocytophilum, 7%; C. burnetii, 7%; E. ruminantium, 28%; and Rickettsia spp., 27%. The presence of B. burgdorferi could not be confirmed. The findings of this study show that zoonotic pathogens are present in ticks in the studied South African provinces. This information will aid in the epidemiology of tick-borne zoonotic diseases in the country as well as in raising awareness about such diseases in the veterinary, medical and tourism sectors, as they may be the most affected.