PubMed | 2 Parks Canada Agency, University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and 3 Public Health Agency of Canada
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Vector borne and zoonotic diseases (Larchmont, N.Y.) | Year: 2015
Blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) are vectors for several important human diseases, including Lyme disease, human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), and human babesiosis, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Babesia microti, respectively. The continued northward range expansion of blacklegged ticks and associated pathogens is an increasing public health concern in Canada. The Thousand Islands region of eastern Ontario has recently been identified as a new endemic area for Lyme disease in Canada, but the occurrence of other pathogens in ticks in this area has not been fully described. Our objectives were to determine the prevalence of A. phagocytophilum and B. microti in small mammals and questing ticks in the Thousand Islands area and identify the strains of A. phagocytophilum circulating in ticks in the area. Serum and larval ticks were collected from trapped small mammals, and questing ticks were collected via drag sampling from up to 12 island and mainland sites in 2006, 2009, and 2010. A. phagocytophilum was identified by PCR in 3.4% (47/1388) ticks from eight of 12 sites; the prevalence ranged from 8.9% in 2006 to 3% in 2009. All 365 ticks tested for B. microti were negative. Antibodies to A. phagocytophilum were detected in 2.8% (17/611) of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) at two of 11 sites in 2006, 2009, or 2010. All 34 A. phagocytophilum-positive ticks submitted for strain identification using single-nucleotide polymorphism genotyping assays targeting the 16S rRNA gene were identified as a variant strain (Ap variant-1), which is not commonly associated with human disease. Our findings suggest that people are at low risk of contracting HGA or human babesiosis due to locally acquired tick bites in the Thousand Islands area. However, continued surveillance is warranted as these pathogens continue to expand their ranges in North America.