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Bartonella spp. are facultative intracellular vector-borne bacteria associated with several emerging diseases in humans and animals all over the world. The potential for involvement of ticks in transmission of Bartonella spp. has been heartily debated for many years. However, most of the data supporting bartonellae transmission by ticks come from molecular and serological epidemiological surveys in humans and animals providing only indirect evidences without a direct proof of tick vector competence for transmission of bartonellae. We used a murine model to assess the vector competence of Ixodes ricinus for Bartonella birtlesii. Larval and nymphal I. ricinus were fed on a B. birtlesii-infected mouse. The nymphs successfully transmitted B. birtlesii to naïve mice as bacteria were recovered from both the mouse blood and liver at seven and 16 days after tick bites. The female adults successfully emitted the bacteria into uninfected blood after three or more days of tick attachment, when fed via membrane feeding system. Histochemical staining showed the presence of bacteria in salivary glands and muscle tissues of partially engorged adult ticks, which had molted from the infected nymphs. These results confirm the vector competence of I. ricinus for B. birtlesii and represent the first in vivo demonstration of a Bartonella sp. transmission by ticks. Consequently, bartonelloses should be now included in the differential diagnosis for patients exposed to tick bites.

Novel spirochetes isolated from mosquitoes and black flies in the Czech Republic.
Sikutová S, Halouzka J, Mendel J, Knoz J, Rudolf I.
J Vector Ecol. 2010 Jun;35(1):50-5.
Institute of Vertebrate Biology, v.v.i., Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Kvetná 8, CZ-603 65 Brno, Czech Republic.
During the years 1999-2002, a total of 4,898 individuals of 26 species of hematophagous insects (4,149 mosquitoes, 583 black flies, and 166 tabanid flies) was examined for the presence of spirochetes using dark-field microscopy. There was an overall recovery of spirochetes from the midguts of Culicidae and Simuliidae of 23.5% and 11.4%, respectively. Spirochetes were not detected in Tabanidae. Seven spirochetal strains have been successfully recovered from mosquitoes and black flies: BR149 (Culex pipiens), BR151 (Cx. pipiens), BR173 (Cx. pipiens), BR177 (Cx. pipiens), BR193 (Aedes cinereus), BR208 (Cx. pipiens), and BR231 (Simulium noelleri). The strains have been adapted to laboratory conditions (BSK-H Complete medium). Their preliminary determination based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing has shown that they differ from the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato as well as other members of the Order Spirochaetales indicating novel bacterial species in the Family Spirochaetaceae.

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