Ticks are the vectors of many zoonotic diseases in the United States, including Lyme disease, human monocytic and granulocytic ehrlichioses, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Most known Bartonella species are arthropod borne. Therefore, it is important to determine if some Bartonella species, which are emerging pathogens, could be carried or transmitted by ticks. In this study, adult Ixodes pacificus tickswere collected by flagging vegetation in three sites in Santa Clara County, Calif. PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism and partial sequencing of 273 bp of the gltA gene were applied for Bartonella identification. Twenty-nine (19.2%) of 151 individually tested ticks were PCR positive for Bartonella. Male ticks were more likely to be infected with Bartonella than female ticks (26 versus 12%, P = 0.05). None of the nine ticks collected at Baird Ranch was PCR positive for Bartonella. However, 7 (50%) of 14 ticks from Red Fern Ranch and 22 (17%) of 128 ticks from the Windy Hill Open Space Reserve were infected with Bartonella. In these infected ticks, molecular analysis showed a variety of Bartonella strains, which were closely related to a cattle Bartonella strain and to several known human-pathogenic Bartonella species and subspecies: Bartonella henselae, B. quintana, B. washoensis, and B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii. These findings indicate that I. pacificus ticksmay play an important role in Bartonella transmission among animals and humans.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology
J Clin Microbiol. 2001 Apr;39(4):1221-6