Close Geographic Association of Human Neoehrlichiosis and Tick Populations Carrying "Candidatus Neoehrlichia Mikurensis" in Eastern Switzerland

J Clin Microbiol. 2013 Jan;51(1):169-76. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01955-12. Epub 2012 Oct 31.

Abstract

Neoehrlichiosis caused by "Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis" is an emerging zoonotic disease. In total, six patients have been described in Europe, with the first case detected in 2007. In addition, seven patients from China were described in a report published in October 2012. In 2009, we diagnosed the first human case of "Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis" infection in the Zurich area (Switzerland). Here, we report two additional human cases from the same region, which were identified by broad-range 16S rRNA gene PCR. Both patients were immunocompromised and presented with similar clinical syndromes, including fever, malaise, and weight loss. A diagnostic multiplex real-time PCR was developed for specific detection of "Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis" infections. The assay is based on the signature sequence of a 280-bp fragment of the "Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis" 16S rRNA gene and incorporates a "Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis" species, a "Ca. Neoehrlichia" genus, and an Anaplasmataceae family probe for simultaneous screening. The analytical sensitivity was determined to be below five copies of the "Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis" 16S rRNA gene. Our results show that the assay is suitable for the direct detection of "Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis" DNA in clinical samples from, for example, blood and bone marrow. In addition, it allows for monitoring treatment response during antibiotic therapy. Using the same assay, DNA extracts from 1,916 ticks collected in four forests in close proximity to the patients' residences (<3 km) were screened. At all sampling sites, the minimal prevalence of "Ca. Neoehrlichia mikurensis" was between 3.5 to 8% in pools of either nymphs, males, or females, showing a strong geographic association between the three patients and the assumed vector.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anaplasmataceae / isolation & purification*
  • Anaplasmataceae Infections / epidemiology*
  • Anaplasmataceae Infections / microbiology
  • Anaplasmataceae Infections / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • China / epidemiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevalence
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Ticks / microbiology*
  • Topography, Medical*

Substances

  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S