The potential role of ticks as vectors of Bartonella species has recently been suggested. In this study, we investigated the presence of Bartonella species in 271 ticks removed from humans in Belluno Province, Italy. By using primers derived from the 60-kDa heat shock protein gene sequences, Bartonella DNA was amplified and sequenced from four Ixodes ricinus ticks (1.48%). To confirm this finding, we performed amplification and partial sequencing of the pap31 protein and the cell division protein ftsZ encoding genes. This process allowed us to definitively identify B. henselae (genotype Houston-1) DNA in the four ticks. Detection of B. henselae in these ticks might represent a highly sensitive form of xenodiagnosis. B. henselae is the first human-infecting Bartonella identified from Ixodes ricinus, a common European tick and the vector of various tickborne pathogens. The role of ticks in the transmission of bartonellosis should be further investigated.
Emerging Infectious Diseases
Emerg Infect Dis. 2003 Mar;9(3):329-32