Detection of Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia odocoilei, Babesia sp., Borrelia burgdorferi Sensu Lato, and Hepatozoon canis in Ixodes scapularis Ticks Collected in Eastern Canada

Abstract

Tick-borne pathogens cause infectious diseases that inflict much societal and financial hardship worldwide. Blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis, are primary vectors of several epizootic and zoonotic pathogens. The aim sets forth the pathogens and their prevalence. In Ontario and Quebec, 113 I. scapularis ticks were collected from songbirds, mammals, including humans, and by flagging. PCR and DNA sequencing detected five different microorganisms: Anaplasma phagocytophilum, 1 (0.9%); Babesia odocoilei, 17 (15.3%); Babesia microti-like sp., 1 (0.9%); Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (Bbsl), 29 (26.1%); and Hepatozoon canis, 1 (0.9%). Five coinfections of Bbsl and Babesia odocoilei occurred. Notably, H. canis was documented for the first time in Canada and, at the same time, demonstrates the first transstadial passage of H. canis in I. scapularis. Transstadial passage of Bbsl and B. odocoilei was also witnessed. A novel undescribed piroplasm (Babesia microti-like) was detected. An established population of I. scapularis ticks was detected at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec. Because songbirds widely disperse I. scapularis larvae and nymphs, exposure in an endemic area is not required to contract tick-borne zoonoses. Based on the diversity of zoonotic pathogens in I. scapularis ticks, clinicians need to be aware that people who are bitten by I. scapularis ticks may require select antimicrobial regimens.

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