Evaluation of the presence of Rickettsia slovaca infection in domestic ruminants in Catalonia, Northeastern Spain.

Anna Ortuño, Imma Pons, Mariela Quesada, Sergio Lario, Esperança Anton, Andreu Gil, Joaquim Castellà, Ferran Segura

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Rickettsia slovaca is the etiological agent of the human disease tick-borne lymphadenopathy (TIBOLA) transmitted by Dermacentor spp. ticks. In our area, Dermacentor marginatus is the most important tick vector; adult ticks feed on mammals, especially ungulates such as wild boars and domestic ruminants. The epidemiology of tick-transmitted diseases describes a wild cycle and a domestic cycle and both are connected by ticks. To identify the role of domestic ruminants in the transmission and maintenance of R. slovaca infection, blood samples from sheep (n=95), goats (n=91), and bullfighting cattle (n=100) were collected during a herd health program, and livestock grazing was selected to ensure tick contact. Samples were analyzed by serology using an indirect immunofluorescent assay (IFA) and molecular techniques (real-time PCR). Seroprevalence was 15.7% in sheep, 20.8% in goats, and 65.0% in bullfighting cattle. On the basis of molecular methods, R. slovaca infection was demonstrated in a goat blood sample with an antibody titer of 1:160. This is the first time that R. slovaca has been identified in a goat blood sample. These results suggest that domestic ruminants are exposed to R. slovaca infection and, because the domestic cycle is close to the human environment, this could increase the risk of transmitting the pathogen to human beings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1022
JournalVector borne and zoonotic diseases (Larchmont, N.Y.)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


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