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Co-infection of bacteria and protozoan parasites in Ixodes ricinus nymphs collected in the Alsace region, France

[CanLyme Note: ‘No Tick is a Good Tick’ Canadian ticks are equally co-infected.]



Fifty nymphal Ixodes ricinus ticks collected in Alsace, France, identified by morphological criteria and using MALDI-TOF MS, were tested by PCR to detect tick-associated bacteria and protozoan parasites. Seventy percent (35/50) of ticks contained at least one microorganism; 26% (9/35) contained two or more species. Several human pathogens were identified including Borrelia burgdorferi s.s. (4%), Borrelia afzelii (2%), Borrelia garinii (2%), Borrelia valaisiana(4%), Borrelia miyamotoi (2%), Rickettsia helvetica (6%) and “Babesia venatorum”(2%). Bartonella spp. (10%) and a Wolbachia spp. (8%) were also detected. The most common co-infections involved Anaplasmataceae with Borrelia spp. (4%), Anaplasmataceae with Bartonella spp. (6%) and Anaplasmataceae with Rickettsiaspp. (6%). Co-infection involving three different groups of bacteria was seen between bacteria of the family Anaplasmataceae, Borrelia spp. and Bartonellaspp. (2%). Results highlight the panel of infectious agents carried by Ixodes ricinus. Co-infection suggests the possibility of transmission of more than one pathogen to human and animals during tick blood feeding.

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