Ticks are vectors of several microorganisms responsible for infectious diseases in human and animals, such as Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Coxiella burnetii. In this study, we investigated the prevalence of these two bacteria in 62 889 Ixodes ricinus ticks in selected regions covering all Switzerland. A high prevalence of 11.9% of A. phagocytophilum DNA was observed by real-time PCR on 8534 pools of ticks. This pool prevalence corresponds to an estimated prevalence of 1.71% in individual tick. A total of 144 of the 171 collection sites (84.2%) were positive for the presence of A. phagocytophilum, and these sites were homogenously distributed throughout Switzerland. Such prevalence and geographical distribution underline the risk of human and animal exposure to A. phagocytophilum and highlight the need to assess the epidemiology and clinical diagnosis of human and animal anaplasmosis in Switzerland. However, DNA of C. burnetii was never found in any tick pool. This absence suggests a very low role of I. ricinus ticks as vector and reservoir of C. burnetii in Switzerland, and it supports previous reports demonstrating the role of sheep and goats in the epidemiology of Q fever. However, considering its pathogenic potential, it is necessary to keep monitoring for the possible reemergence of this bacterium in ticks in the future.
Keywords: Anaplasma phagocytophilum; Coxiella burnetii; Ixodes ricinus; Q fever; human granulocytic anaplasmosis; ticks.