Neorickettsia risticii is vertically transmitted in the trematode Acanthatrium oregonense and horizontally transmitted to bats

Environ Microbiol. 2005 Feb;7(2):203-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2004.00683.x.


Potomac horse fever is known to be transmitted through the ingestion of caddisflies parasitized with Neorickettsia (formerly Ehrlichia) risticii-infected metacercaria. However, the species of trematode involved and how N. risticii is maintained in nature are unknown. In this study, gravid trematodes were recovered from the intestines of 12 out of 15 Eptesicus fuscus big brown bats and eight out of nine Myotis lucifugus little brown bats from various sites in Pennsylvania, USA. Trematode specimens isolated from six E. fuscus bats contained N. risticii DNA. The trematode was identified as Acanthatrium oregonense. N. risticii was detected within individual trematode eggs by polymerase chain reaction as well as by immunofluorescence labelling with an anti-N. risticii antibody, indicating that N. risticii is vertically transmitted (from adult to egg) in A. oregonense. Furthermore, N. risticii DNA was detected in the blood, liver or spleen of 23 out of 53 E. fuscus and M. lucifugus bats, suggesting that N. risticii can also be transmitted horizontally from trematode to bat. These results indicate that A. oregonense is a natural reservoir and probably a vector of N. risticii.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anaplasmataceae Infections / microbiology
  • Anaplasmataceae Infections / transmission
  • Anaplasmataceae Infections / veterinary*
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Blood / microbiology
  • Chiroptera / microbiology*
  • Chiroptera / parasitology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Ribosomal / chemistry
  • DNA, Ribosomal / isolation & purification
  • Disease Reservoirs*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious
  • Immunochemistry
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Liver / microbiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neorickettsia risticii / isolation & purification*
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Spleen / microbiology
  • Trematoda / microbiology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AY374987
  • GENBANK/AY388494
  • GENBANK/AY388495