Molecular detection of murine herpesvirus 68 in ticks feeding on free-living reptiles

Microb Ecol. 2011 Nov;62(4):862-7. doi: 10.1007/s00248-011-9907-7. Epub 2011 Jul 6.


The MHV-68 (designed as Murid herpesvirus 4 (MuHV 4) strain 68) isolated from two rodents, Myodes glareolus and Apodemus flavicollis, is considered as a natural pathogen of free-living murid rodents. Recently, the detection of MHV antibodies in the blood of animals living in the same biotope as MHV-infected mice has suggested that ticks may have a role in the transmission of this pathogen. Ixodes ricinus is one the most abundant tick species in Europe known to transmit multiple pathogens causing human and animal diseases. In this study, nymphs and larvae feeding on 116 individuals of a temperate lizard species-the green lizard Lacerta viridis captured in the Slovak Karst National Park, were examined for MHV-68. The specific sequence of virion glycoprotein 150 was amplified in DNA individually isolated from I. ricinus ticks using single-copy sensitive nested polymerase chain reaction. MHV-68 was detected in ten of 649 nymphs and in five of 150 larvae, respectively. We found that 9.6% of green lizards fed at least one MHV-68-infected immature tick. Occurrence of MHV-68 within all ticks tested was 1.8%. This study is first to show that immature I. ricinus ticks feeding on free-living lizards in a Central European region could be infected with gammaherpesvirus (MHV-68), naturally infecting free-living murid rodents. Our results provide evidence supporting the hypothesis that ticks may play a mediating role in circulation of MHV-68 in nature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Disease Vectors
  • Herpesviridae Infections / transmission
  • Ixodes / virology*
  • Lizards / parasitology*
  • Rhadinovirus / isolation & purification*
  • Slovakia


  • DNA, Viral