Molecular epidemiological surveillance to assess emergence and re-emergence of tick-borne infections in tick samples from China evaluated by nested PCRs

Acta Trop. 2016 Jun;158:181-188. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2016.02.027. Epub 2016 Mar 2.


An investigation was performed to detect eight pathogens in ticks collected from grass tips or animals in the southern, central and northeast regions of China. DNA samples extracted from ticks were collected from ten different locations in eight provinces of China and subjected to screening for tick-borne pathogens, including Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Ehrlichia spp., Rickettsia spp., Babesia/Theileria spp., Ehrlichia ruminantium, Coxiella burnetii, and Francisella tularensis, using nested PCR assays and sequencing analysis. The results indicated that Borrelia spp., Rickettsia spp., and Babesia/Theileria spp. were detected in all of the investigated provinces. Ehrlichia spp. was also found in all of the surveyed areas, except Guangxi, Luobei and Tonghe counties in Heilongjiang province. The average prevalence of these pathogens was 18.4% (95% CI=12.8-42.5), 60.3% (95% CI=18.2-65.3), 26.0% (95% CI=25.8-65.1), and 28.7% (95% CI=5.6-35.2), respectively. A sequencing analysis of the pCS20 gene of E. ruminantium revealed an E. ruminantium-like organism (1/849, 0.1%, 95% CI=0-0.3) in one tick DNA sample extracted from Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus in Hunan. In addition, Borrelia americana in Ixodes persulcatus, Babesia occultans in Haemaphysalis qinghaiensis and both Rhipicephalus sanguineus and an Ehrlichia muris-like organism in R. (B.) microplus was detected, possibly for the first time in China. Four DNA sequences closely related to Borrelia carolinensis and/or Borrelia bissettii from Haemaphysalis longicornis, Candidatus Rickettsia principis from H. qinghaiensis, and I. persulcatus and Ehrlichia canis (named E. canis-like) from Haemaphysalis bispinosa were also detected in this work.

Keywords: China; Surveillance; Tick; Tick-borne pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Babesia / genetics
  • Babesia / isolation & purification
  • Borrelia / genetics
  • Borrelia / isolation & purification
  • China / epidemiology
  • Ehrlichia / genetics
  • Ehrlichia / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Rickettsia / genetics
  • Rickettsia / isolation & purification
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Ticks / microbiology*
  • Ticks / parasitology*