Special Issue "Trends in Tickborne Diseases"

A special issue of Veterinary Sciences (ISSN 2306-7381).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Tetsuya Tanaka
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, Joint Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kagoshima University, 1-21-24 Korimoto, Kagoshima 890-0065, Japan
Interests: tick biology; parasitology; innate immunity; protein functional chemistry; infectious diseases

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids that thrive from subarctic to tropical temperature zones, and can survive without nutrient intake for prolonged periods—up to 10 years for some species. Ticks can multiply rapidly—some females can reproduce asexually—and parasitize humans and animals.
When ticks infest a host, they can induce anemia, anaphylactic reactions originating at bite sites, and paralysis due to their salivary toxins. Like mosquitos, they transmit pathogens for a wide range of zoonotic diseases. Tick-borne pathogens have developed survival mechanisms through manipulating gene expression based on the salivary or midgut environment. Ticks and tick-borne diseases thus represent a major challenge for contemporary veterinary medicine.
This Special Issue on “Trends in Tick-borne Diseases” aims to disseminate knowledge on different aspects of tick biology and their interaction with viruses, rickettsiae, protozoan parasites, and other infectious agents they transmit. An enhanced understanding in these areas is vital for combating tick infestation and tick-borne diseases, with strategies from vaccination to genetic modification being among the topics of current research.
We welcome contributions from veterinarians and scientists around the world on this important issue in human and animal medicine.

Dr. Tetsuya Tanaka
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • ticks
  • tick-borne diseases
  • virus
  • rickettsiae
  • protozoan parasites
  • transmission
  • vaccines
  • genetic modification

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Communication
Presence of Rickettsia Species in Ticks Collected from Companion Animals in Northeastern Georgia, United States
Vet. Sci. 2021, 8(3), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci8030037 - 26 Feb 2021
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Abstract
Tick-borne diseases are a major threat to both humans and their pets; therefore, it is important to evaluate the prevalence of pathogens carried by ticks on companion animals. In this study, attached and unattached Ixodid ticks were removed from companion animals by a [...] Read more.
Tick-borne diseases are a major threat to both humans and their pets; therefore, it is important to evaluate the prevalence of pathogens carried by ticks on companion animals. In this study, attached and unattached Ixodid ticks were removed from companion animals by a veterinary practice in Hall County, Georgia. DNA was extracted from unengorged adult ticks and each was screened for the presence of Rickettsia spp. by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequenced to determine the species present. Two hundred and four adult hard-bodied ticks were identified to species and Rickettsia spp. were found in 19.6% (n = 38) of the 194 analyzed DNA extracts. Rickettsia montanensis was found in Dermacentor variablis (14.7%; n = 25), Amblyomma maculatum (33.3%; n = 2), and Rhipicephalus sanguineus s.l. ticks (25%; n = 4). One Amblyomma americanum tick contained Rickettsia amblyommatis, while Rickettsia felis was found in one Dermacentor variablis tick, serving as the first report of Rickettsia felis in a tick in this region and within this tick vector. This study suggests that there is a risk of companion animals contracting a species of Rickettsia from a tick bite in northeastern Georgia, indicating a need for more investigation and highlighting the importance of tick prevention on pets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends in Tickborne Diseases)
Article
Risk Factors and Severity of Gastrointestinal Parasites in Selected Small Ruminants from Malaysia
Vet. Sci. 2020, 7(4), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci7040208 - 18 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1382
Abstract
The productivity of smallholder sheep and goat flocks is constrained by high morbidity and mortality of young stock due to helminthosis and coccidiosis. We hypothesized that gastrointestinal parasites are prevalent and may cause severe infections amongst small ruminants in Malaysia. A cross-sectional survey [...] Read more.
The productivity of smallholder sheep and goat flocks is constrained by high morbidity and mortality of young stock due to helminthosis and coccidiosis. We hypothesized that gastrointestinal parasites are prevalent and may cause severe infections amongst small ruminants in Malaysia. A cross-sectional survey was conducted between March and December 2019 to investigate the prevalence, risk factors, and levels of infection with gastrointestinal strongyle and coccidia in selected smallholder goat flocks in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. A total of 257 blood and fecal samples and management data were collected from four farms in Negeri Sembilan. Gastrointestinal parasites were detected by routine sodium chloride floatation, and the McMaster technique was used to quantify the fecal eggs/oocysts per gram outputs (EPG/OPG). The severity of infection was classified as mild (50–799), moderate (800–1200), or severe (>1200). The packed cell volume (PCV) was determined by microhematocrit centrifugation and classified as anemic or non-anemic. Coprological examination revealed an overall prevalence of 78.6% (CI = 72.74–83.44) and 100% flock level prevalence of strongyle and coccidia infection among goats from Negeri Sembilan with a higher infection in flock A-Lenggeng (95.6%) than B-Senawang (87.3%), D-Mendom (80.6%), or C-Seremban (60.0%). The co-infections of strongyle + Eimeria (50.6; CI = 44.50 to 56.64) were more common than single infections of either strongyle (16.7%; CI = 12.66 to 21.78) or Eimeria (4.3%; CI = 2.41 to 7.50). Quantitative analysis has revealed different (p < 0.05) patterns of EPG/OPG in various categories of goats. In total, there were 49.8% mild, 8.6% moderate, and 13.6% severe infections of strongyle and 40.1% mild, 6.6% moderate, and 19.8% severe infections of coccidia among goats. The mean PCV of goats with severe strongyle infection (24.60 ± 0.85) was significantly (p < 0.05) lower than the moderate (26.90 ± 1.15), or mild (28.23 ± 0.50) infections and the uninfected (30.4 ± 0.71). There were increased odds of infection with strongyle and coccidia among female (OR = 3.2) and adult (OR = 11.0) goats from smallholder flocks in Negeri Sembilan. In conclusion, gastrointestinal strongyles and coccidia occur at high frequency among smallholder goats, and there is a higher risk of infection amongst the adult and female stock. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends in Tickborne Diseases)
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Article
Prevalence of Winter Ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) in Hunter-Harvested Wild Elk (Cervus canadensis) from Pennsylvania, USA (2017–2018)
Vet. Sci. 2020, 7(4), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci7040177 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1001
Abstract
Winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) are an aggressive one-host tick that infest a wide-diversity of ungulates. Infestations can result in anemia, alopecia, emaciation, and death. Most notably, the winter tick has caused negative impacts to moose (Alces alces) populations in [...] Read more.
Winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) are an aggressive one-host tick that infest a wide-diversity of ungulates. Infestations can result in anemia, alopecia, emaciation, and death. Most notably, the winter tick has caused negative impacts to moose (Alces alces) populations in the northeast United States and Canada. Winter ticks have been identified on other cervid species, including deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and elk (Cervus canadensis), which generally results in low tick burdens and mild or no disease. Recently, however, a wild yearling bull elk in Pennsylvania was found dead as a result of severe winter tick infestation. To obtain baseline data on winter ticks in wild elk in Pennsylvania, we collected 1453 ticks from 190 hunter-harvested wild elk between 2017–2018. Of the 204 harvested elk, 94.3% (190/204) had ticks collected for this study and none of the sampled elk had evidence of winter-tick associated disease. The average tick burden was 7.7 ticks/elk and average winter tick load on all elk was 0.5. Results of this study indicate that winter ticks do infest wild elk in Pennsylvania. However, during the fall months, the tick burden is low and rarely associated with lesions. These data herein serve as a baseline to monitor winter tick populations over time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends in Tickborne Diseases)
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Communication
Geographic Distribution of Ehrlichia canis TRP Genotypes in Brazil
Vet. Sci. 2020, 7(4), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci7040165 - 29 Oct 2020
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Abstract
Tandem repeat proteins (TRPs) are major immunoreactive proteins of Ehrlichia canis, which have been used in the serological diagnosis of different genotypes of the microorganism. TRP19 is preserved among different E. canis isolates expressed on both reticulate and dense-core cells and observed [...] Read more.
Tandem repeat proteins (TRPs) are major immunoreactive proteins of Ehrlichia canis, which have been used in the serological diagnosis of different genotypes of the microorganism. TRP19 is preserved among different E. canis isolates expressed on both reticulate and dense-core cells and observed in the extracellular matrix or associated with the morula membrane. TRP36 is differentially expressed only on the surface of the dense-core form of the bacterium and exhibits more divergence among isolates. The aim of this study was to evaluate the distribution of the American (USTRP36), Brazilian (BrTRP36) and Costa Rican (CRTRP36) genotypes of E. canis in Brazil, using ELISA assays. Serum samples of 814 dogs from 49 municipalities from all over Brazil were analyzed. Our results showed that 34% of the samples were reactive to the USTRP36 genotype and 32.6% to the BrTRP36 genotype. The two genotypes appeared to occur equally throughout Brazil, although the frequency of seropositivity was lower in the south than in the country’s other regions. Dogs that reacted to at least one of the synthetic peptides (TRP19 and TRP36) were 456 (56%). A few dogs (n = 5; 0.61%) reactive to the E. canis TRP36 genotype (CRTRP36) were also detected in the northeast and southern regions. We concluded that the American and Brazilian genotypes of E. canis are distributed evenly in Brazil, especially in the tropical region, while the temperate region in the south presented the lowest prevalence rates. This study offers the first report of dogs seropositive for the Costa Rican genotype in Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends in Tickborne Diseases)
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Article
Dermacentor marginatus and Dermacentor reticulatus, and Their Infection by SFG Rickettsiae and Francisella-Like Endosymbionts, in Mountain and Periurban Habitats of Northwestern Italy
Vet. Sci. 2020, 7(4), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci7040157 - 16 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1169
Abstract
We investigated the distribution of Dermacentor spp. and their infection by zoonotic bacteria causing SENLAT (scalp eschar neck lymphadenopathy) in Turin province, northwestern Italy. We collected ticks in a mountain and in a periurban park, from vegetation and different animal sources, and we [...] Read more.
We investigated the distribution of Dermacentor spp. and their infection by zoonotic bacteria causing SENLAT (scalp eschar neck lymphadenopathy) in Turin province, northwestern Italy. We collected ticks in a mountain and in a periurban park, from vegetation and different animal sources, and we sampled tissues from wild boar. Dermacentor marginatus (n = 121) was collected in both study areas, on vegetation, humans, and animals, while D. reticulatus (n = 13) was exclusively collected on wild boar from the periurban area. Rickettsia slovaca and Candidatus Rickettsia rioja infected 53.1% of the ticks, and R. slovaca was also identified in 11.3% of wild boar tissues. Bartonella spp. and Francisella tularensis were not detected, however, Francisella-like endosymbionts infected both tick species (9.2%). Our findings provide new insights on the current distribution of Dermacentor spp. and their infection with a spotted-fever group rickettsiae in the Alps region. Wild boar seem to play a major role in their eco-epidemiology and dispersion in the study area. Although further studies are needed to assess the burden of rickettsial diseases, our results highlight the risk of contracting SENLAT infection through Dermacentor spp. bites in the region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends in Tickborne Diseases)
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Article
Development of a Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) Assay Targeting the Citrate Synthase Gene for Detection of Ehrlichia canis in Dogs
Vet. Sci. 2020, 7(4), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci7040156 - 15 Oct 2020
Viewed by 1286
Abstract
Canine monocytic ehrlichiosis caused by Ehrlichia canis is one of the leading tick-borne diseases of dogs, particularly in tropical countries. A highly sensitive and specific diagnostic method is essential for early detection to facilitate treatment. This study was conducted to develop E. canis [...] Read more.
Canine monocytic ehrlichiosis caused by Ehrlichia canis is one of the leading tick-borne diseases of dogs, particularly in tropical countries. A highly sensitive and specific diagnostic method is essential for early detection to facilitate treatment. This study was conducted to develop E. canis loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay, a highly sensitive yet simple molecular technique, targeting the citrate synthase (gltA) gene of E. canis. Canine blood samples were subjected to conventional PCR targeting E. canis gltA. After analysis of the sequences of PCR amplicons, LAMP primers were generated. The optimum temperature and time for the LAMP assay were determined using eight samples—after which, the effectiveness and reproducibility of LAMP were verified by testing 40 samples, which included PCR-positive and negative samples. The detection limit was also established. The optimal condition for the assay was 61 °C for 60 min. Compared to PCR, the LAMP assay had a relative sensitivity and specificity of 92.5 and 100%, respectively. Statistical analysis using McNemar’s test showed that the E. canis LAMP assay has no significant difference with PCR. Therefore, the LAMP assay developed in this study may be used as an alternative to PCR in the detection of E. canis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends in Tickborne Diseases)
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Article
Modeling Novel Putative Drugs and Vaccine Candidates against Tick-Borne Pathogens: A Subtractive Proteomics Approach
Vet. Sci. 2020, 7(3), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci7030129 - 07 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1612
Abstract
Ticks and tick-borne pathogens (TBPs) continuously causing substantial losses to the public and veterinary health sectors. The identification of putative drug targets and vaccine candidates is crucial to control TBPs. No information has been recorded on designing novel drug targets and vaccine candidates [...] Read more.
Ticks and tick-borne pathogens (TBPs) continuously causing substantial losses to the public and veterinary health sectors. The identification of putative drug targets and vaccine candidates is crucial to control TBPs. No information has been recorded on designing novel drug targets and vaccine candidates based on proteins. Subtractive proteomics is an in silico approach that utilizes extensive screening for the identification of novel drug targets or vaccine candidates based on the determination of potential target proteins available in a pathogen proteome that may be used effectively to control diseases caused by these infectious agents. The present study aimed to investigate novel drug targets and vaccine candidates by utilizing subtractive proteomics to scan the available proteomes of TBPs and predict essential and non-host homologous proteins required for the survival of these diseases causing agents. Subtractive proteome analysis revealed a list of fifteen essential, non-host homologous, and unique metabolic proteins in the complete proteome of selected pathogens. Among these therapeutic target proteins, three were excluded due to the presence in host gut metagenome, eleven were found to be highly potential drug targets, while only one was found as a potential vaccine candidate against TBPs. The present study may provide a foundation to design potential drug targets and vaccine candidates for the effective control of infections caused by TBPs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends in Tickborne Diseases)
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Communication
Blood Parasites in Domestic Birds in Central Iran
Vet. Sci. 2020, 7(3), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci7030126 - 04 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1171
Abstract
Parasites may affect the dynamics of bird populations. Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon and Haemoproteus are well-known avian haematozoa that can trigger decreased productivity and high mortality in domesticated birds. In this study, we evaluated the prevalence of avian blood parasites (Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon [...] Read more.
Parasites may affect the dynamics of bird populations. Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon and Haemoproteus are well-known avian haematozoa that can trigger decreased productivity and high mortality in domesticated birds. In this study, we evaluated the prevalence of avian blood parasites (Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon and Haemoproteus) against 335 birds of 8 species in the Yazd province in central Iran. To detect blood parasites, Giemsa-stained blood smears were prepared. Of the birds, 11.64% (39/335) were infected with at least one parasite genus, particularly Haemoproteus (32.6%; 23/335). The total prevalence values for Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon were 1.7, 6.8 and 2.9%, respectively. Plasmodium had lower prevalence rates of 1.7% (6/335). Among birds, pigeons, hens and ducks have the highest prevalence of Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon and Plasmodium parasites at 1.7%, 6.8% and 2.9%, respectively. Results from this research extend our knowledge on the incidence of avian blood parasites in domesticated birds living in central Iran. The overall low incidence of avian blood parasites in birds was found in the Yazd province, Iran. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends in Tickborne Diseases)
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Correction
Correction: Ali, A., et al. Modeling Novel Putative Drugs and Vaccine Candidates against Tick-Borne Pathogens: A Subtractive Proteomics Approach. Vet. Sci. 2020, 7, 129
Vet. Sci. 2020, 7(4), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci7040158 - 20 Oct 2020
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The authors wish to make the following corrections to this paper [...] Full article
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