Screening for rickettsia, coxiella and borrelia species in ticks from Queensland, Australia

Hazizul Hussain-Yusuf, John Stenos, Gemma Vincent, Amy Shima, Sandra Abell, Noel D. Preece, Mythili Tadepalli, Sze Fui Hii, Naomi Bowie, Kate Mitram, Stephen Graves

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Tick bites in Australia are linked to the transmission of a variety of infectious diseases in humans, livestock and wildlife. Despite this recognition, little is currently known about the variety of potential pathogens that are carried and transmitted by Australian ticks. In this study, we attempted to expand knowledge of Australian tick-borne bacterial pathogens by analyzing various tick species from the state of Queensland for potential human pathogens belonging to the Rickettsia, Coxiella and Borrelia genera. A total of 203 ticks, comprising of four genera and nine different tick species, were screened by specific qPCR assays. An overall Rickettsia qPCR positivity of 6.4% (13/203) was detected with rickettsial DNA found in four tick species (Ixodes holocyclus, I. tasmani, Amblyomma triguttatum, and Haemaphysalis longicornis). Amplification and analysis of several rickettsial genes from rickettsial qPCR positive samples identified sequences closely related to but genetically distinct from several previously described cultured and uncultured rickettsial species in the Rickettsia spotted fever subgroup. No ticks were positive for either Coxiella or Borrelia DNA. This work suggests that a further diversity of rickettsiae remain to be described in Australian ticks with the full importance of these bacteria to human and animal health yet to be elucidated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1016
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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