Here we present the first detection of a male Amblyomma variegatum tick infesting a sheep on the island of Sardinia, as well as the detection of a pathogen, Rickettsia africae, in DNA extracted from this tick. The tick, the second individual of this species reported in Italy (the first one was reported in Sicily by Albanese in 1971) was collected in August 2018 from the inguinal region of an adult female sheep in a farm located near Sassari (North-West Sardinia). The tick was identified as an adult A. variegatum male under a stereomicroscope using morphological keys. A phylogenetic analysis showed that the 12S sequence clustered with that of African A. variegatum individuals and was embedded within the previously identified West African group. We tested the tick for the presence of microorganisms of the genera Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, Anaplasma, Theileria and Babesia, using published PCR protocols. The tick was found positive to Rickettsia and the obtained sequence matched at 100 % identity with R. africae. The area where the tick was detected was inspected on multiple occasions, looking for other specimens of A. variegatum, without any results. In the same period another male specimen of A. variegatum was found in Haute Corse in 2019. The authors' hypothesis is that the presence of the A. variegatum specimen is an occasional finding, probably linked to the migrating birds that cross Sardinia and Corsica from Africa during summer. Although this may have been an incidental finding, it must be considered that global warming could increase the risk of establishment of colonies of these ticks, that show a strong spreading capability. It is also important to emphasize that this tick species is a proven vector and reservoir of R. africae, an uncommon zoonotic pathogen in Italy, thus additional monitoring must be performed as the establishment of a stable population in Sardinia could represent a serious veterinary and public health issue.

First detection of Amblyomma variegatum and molecular finding of Rickettsia africae in Sardinia, Italy

Olivieri E.
;
Floriano A. M.
;
Sassera D.
;
2021

Abstract

Here we present the first detection of a male Amblyomma variegatum tick infesting a sheep on the island of Sardinia, as well as the detection of a pathogen, Rickettsia africae, in DNA extracted from this tick. The tick, the second individual of this species reported in Italy (the first one was reported in Sicily by Albanese in 1971) was collected in August 2018 from the inguinal region of an adult female sheep in a farm located near Sassari (North-West Sardinia). The tick was identified as an adult A. variegatum male under a stereomicroscope using morphological keys. A phylogenetic analysis showed that the 12S sequence clustered with that of African A. variegatum individuals and was embedded within the previously identified West African group. We tested the tick for the presence of microorganisms of the genera Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, Anaplasma, Theileria and Babesia, using published PCR protocols. The tick was found positive to Rickettsia and the obtained sequence matched at 100 % identity with R. africae. The area where the tick was detected was inspected on multiple occasions, looking for other specimens of A. variegatum, without any results. In the same period another male specimen of A. variegatum was found in Haute Corse in 2019. The authors' hypothesis is that the presence of the A. variegatum specimen is an occasional finding, probably linked to the migrating birds that cross Sardinia and Corsica from Africa during summer. Although this may have been an incidental finding, it must be considered that global warming could increase the risk of establishment of colonies of these ticks, that show a strong spreading capability. It is also important to emphasize that this tick species is a proven vector and reservoir of R. africae, an uncommon zoonotic pathogen in Italy, thus additional monitoring must be performed as the establishment of a stable population in Sardinia could represent a serious veterinary and public health issue.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11571/1448768
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