Genetic diversity of bacterial agents detected in ticks removed from asymptomatic patients in northeastern Italy

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Jun;990:182-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2003.tb07360.x.


A total of 360 ticks were removed from 353 asymptomatic subjects in Belluno Province, Italy and surrounding areas, from 1998 to 2001. Ticks were identified as Ixodes ricinus (357), Ixodes hexagonus (1), Rhipicephalus sanguineus (1), and Ixodes ventalloi (1). Tick DNA was investigated by PCR and subsequent sequencing of amplified products to identity associated bacterial agents. Primers targeting different genes of Rickettsia (gltA and OmpA), Borrelia (16S rDNA, rpoB), Francisella (16S rDNA), and all genera members of the Anaplasmataceae (16S rDNA), were used. DNA of bacterial agents was identified in 28 Ixodes ricinus specimens (7.8%). Rickettsia helvetica was detected in 7 ticks. Rickettsia sp. IRS4 and Borrelia afzelii was detected in 4 ticks each. B. garinii and B. valaisiana were identified in one tick each. Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis, was identified in 1 specimen of I. ricinus. A new Ehrlichia sp. ("Candidatus Ehrlichia walkerii", sp. nov.) was identified in 10 I. ricinus specimens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum / genetics*
  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum / isolation & purification
  • Animals
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Francisella / genetics*
  • Francisella / isolation & purification
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Ixodes / microbiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Rickettsia / genetics*
  • Rickettsia / isolation & purification
  • Ticks / microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S