Tick-borne disease can be transmitted in as little as 15 seconds of attachment new study reveals.
[CanLyme Note: In the western regions of North America Dermacentor andersonii is a major vector of Rickettsia rickettsii. Because rickettsial infections in humans appear to be expressed from mild to fatal it is possible many misdiagnoses have occurred over the decades. “Rickettsial infections can affect many organs, including the central nervous system (CNS) ” Also, the possibility of congenital transmission must be explored using today’s sophisticated technologies.]
Minimal Duration of Tick Attachment Sufficient for Transmission of Infectious Rickettsia rickettsii (Rickettsiales: Rickettsiaceae) by Its Primary Vector Dermacentor variabilis (Acari: Ixodidae): Duration of Rickettsial Reactivation in the Vector Revisited
Published: 05 November 2019 Journal of Medical Entomology
It has been reported that starving ticks do not transmit spotted fever group Rickettsia immediately upon attachment because pathogenic bacteria exist in a dormant, uninfectious state and require time for ‘reactivation’ before transmission to a susceptible host. To clarify the length of reactivation period, we exposed guinea pigs to bites of Rickettsia rickettsii-infected Dermacentor variabilis (Say) and allowed ticks to remain attached for predetermined time periods from 0 to 48 h. Following removal of attached ticks, salivary glands were immediately tested by PCR, while guinea pigs were observed for 10–12 d post-exposure. Guinea pigs in a control group were subcutaneously inoculated with salivary glands from unfed D. variabilis from the same cohort. In a parallel experiment, skin at the location of tick bite was also excised at the time of tick removal to ascertain dissemination of pathogen from the inoculation site. Animals in every exposure group developed clinical and pathological signs of infection. The severity of rickettsial infection in animals increased with the length of tick attachment, but even attachments for less than 8 h resulted in clinically identifiable infection in some guinea pigs. Guinea pigs inoculated with salivary glands from unfed ticks also became severely ill. Results of our study indicate that R. rickettsii residing in salivary glands of unfed questing ticks does not necessarily require a period of reactivation to precede the salivary transmission and ticks can transmit infectious Rickettsia virtually as soon as they attach to the host.