Surveillance for Heartland and Bourbon Viruses in Eastern Kansas, June 2016

Savage HM, Godsey MS Jr, Tatman J, Burkhalter KL, Hamm A, Panella NA, Ghosh A, Raghavan RK.
Journal of Medical Entomology, online first 2018 Jun 27.


In June 2016, we continued surveillance for tick-borne viruses in eastern Kansas following upon a larger surveillance program initiated in 2015 in response to a fatal human case of Bourbon virus (BRBV) (Family
Orthomyxoviridae: Genus Thogotovirus). In 4 d, we collected 14,193 ticks representing four species from four sites.

Amblyomma americanum (L.) (Acari: Ixodidae) accounted for nearly all ticks collected (n = 14,116, 99.5%), and the only other species identified were Amblyomma maculatum Koch (Acari: Ixodidae),
Dermacentor variables (Say) (Acari: Ixodidae) and Ixodes scapulars Say (Acari: Ixodidae). All ticks were tested for both BRBV and Heartland virus (Family Bunyaviridae: Genus Phlebovirus) in 964 pools.

Five Heartland virus positive tick pools were detected and confirmed by real-time reverse transcription PCR (rRT-PCR), while all pools tested negative for BRBV. Each Heartland positive pool was composed of 25 A. americium nymphs with positive pools collected at three different sites in Bourbon County.

A. americanum is believed to be the primary vector of both Heartland and BRBVs to humans based upon multiple detections of virus in field-collected ticks, its abundance, and its aggressive feeding behavior on mammals including humans. However, it is possible that A. americium encounters viremic vertebrate hosts of BRBV less frequently than viremic hosts of Heartland virus, or that BRBV is less efficiently
passed among ticks by co-feeding, or less efficiently passed vertically from infected female ticks to their offspring resulting in lower field infection rates.


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