Prevalence of Anaplasma phagocytophilum in questing Ixodes ricinus nymphs across twenty recreational areas in England and Wales

Sara Gandy, Kayleigh Hansford, Liz McGinley, Benjamin Cull, Rob Smith, Amanda Semper, Tim Brooks, Manoj Fonville, Hein Sprong, Paul Phipps, Nicholas Johnson, Jolyon M. Medlock

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9 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Human granulocytic anaplasmosis and tick-borne fever, affecting livestock, are diseases caused by an infection with the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Its transmission dynamics between vertebrate hosts and ticks remain largely unknown and the potential impact on public health in the United Kingdom is unclear. This study aimed to assess the distribution and estimate the prevalence of A. phagocytophilum in questing Ixodes ricinus at recreational locations across England and Wales over six years. An additional objective was to investigate possible associations between prevalence, habitat and presence of ruminant hosts. Ixodes ricinus ticks were collected each spring at 20 recreational locations across England and Wales between 2014 and 2019. Nymphs were tested for infection with A. phagocytophilum by detection of bacterial genome in DNA extracts, targeting the msp2 gene locus. Positive samples were further investigated for the presence of different ecotypes based on the GroEL region. Of 3,919 nymphs tested, the mean infection prevalence was 3.6% [95%CI: 3.1-4.3] and ranged from 0 to 20.4%. Northern England had a higher overall prevalence (4.7% [95%CI: 3.4-6.4]) compared to Southern England (1.8% [95%CI: 1.3-2.5]) and the presence of sheep was associated with higher A. phagocytophilum prevalence (8.4% [95%CI: 6.9-10.1] vs 1.2% [95%CI: 0.8-1.7] when absent). There was also a negative correlation with the prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. (causing Lyme borreliosis). When investigating the diversity of A. phagocytophilum, ecotype I accounted for 86.8% of samples and ecotype II for 13.2%. Our study presents an overview of A. phagocytophilum prevalence in questing I. ricinus in recreational areas across England and Wales and discusses the potential public and veterinary health relevance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101965
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Volume13
Issue number4
Early online date12 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: JMM was partly funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Change (NIHR200909), a partnership between UK Health Security Agency, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Met Office and University College London. The views expressed are those of the author (s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR, UK Health Security Agency or the Department of Health and Social Care.

The authors report no declaration of interest.

Open Access: This is an open access article under the CC BY license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Publisher Copyright: Crown Copyright © 2022 Published by Elsevier GmbH.

Citation: Sara Gandy, Kayleigh Hansford, Liz McGinley, Benjamin Cull, Rob Smith, Amanda Semper, Tim Brooks, Manoj Fonville, Hein Sprong, Paul Phipps, Nicholas Johnson, Jolyon M. Medlock, Prevalence of Anaplasma phagocytophilum in questing Ixodes ricinus nymphs across twenty recreational areas in England and Wales, Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, Volume 13, Issue 4, 2022, 101965, ISSN 1877-959X.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2022.101965.

Keywords

  • ecotype
  • human granulocytic anaplasmosis
  • tick-borne fever

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