Archive for the ‘Rickettsia’ Category

Fire – Good News for Tick Reduction

Fire & Ticks: The Impacts of Long-term Prescribed Fire on Tick Populations & Tick-borne Disease Risk

Approx. 1 hour

Published on Mar 29, 2018

This webinar by Dr. Liz Gleim, Assistant Professor of Biology & Environmental Studies from Hollins University explores the impacts of long-term prescribed fire on ticks & tick-borne disease risk and what appears to be some promising results linking fire & reducing disease risk.

Webinar found on the NAFSE website,

(slide show in link)

The research conducted in southwest Georgia concerned four tick species (slide 2):

  • Lone Star Tick – known for causing Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis (HME), Ehrlichiosis ewingii (STARI)
  • Gulf Coast Tick – known for causing Rickettsiosis
  • American Dog Tick – known for causing Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
  • Black Legged Tick – known for causing Lyme Disease (LD), Human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), and Babesiosis

Prior research (slide 5) have shown a discrepancy regarding whether or not controlled fire reduces tick abundance over time.  Gleim found that these prior studies did not take into account “real-world” management practices such as they were conducted in small areas and consisted of single-burns.

Gleim’s study consisted of 21 Total sites in 4 different categories (slide 7):

  1. 8 burned sites surrounded by burned areas
  2. 5 burned sites surrounded by unburned areas
  3. 5 unburned sites surrounded by unburned areas
  4. 3 control unburned sites surrounded by unburned areas

The study went for 2 years in which they did monthly tick surveys, took weather data, and did vegetative and host surveys (slide 8).  In the two years they collected over 47,000 ticks.

Tick abundance was in the following order (slide 10):

  1. Lone Star Tick
  2. Black Legged Tick
  3. Gulf Coast Tick
  4. American Dog Tick

Regarding fire on tick populations, they found the burned areas “flatlined” the tick populations whereas the control sites had typical tick abundance (slide 11) .  

Greater than 95% leaf litter = 2X more ticks (slide 12)

High tree density = 6X more ticks

Regarding black legged ticks:

Burning reduced the black legged tick population by 78%

High tree density = 17X more ticks

Recent precipitation = 2X more ticks

Gleim was concerned about the effects of red imported fire ants (RIFA) on the ticks (slide 14 & 15)

Ticks:  Evidence has shown that Imported fire ants reduce populations of certain tick species by preying on engorged female ticks filled with blood and eggs or small hatching ticks. Non-engorged ticks freeze in place and “play possum” when examined by a foraging ant, thus escaping their fate as ant food!

There is limited data only the effects of RIFA on Lone Star Ticks.

So they did 3 treatments (slide 16) putting engorged Lone Star & Gulf Coast Ticks as well as nymphs into each enclosure and releasing them them during months that they were determined to be naturally active (slide 17):

  1. Burned habitat with Fire Ants
  2. Burned habitat without Fire Ants (this doesn’t happen naturally)
  3. Unburned habitat without Fire Ants (this doesn’t happen naturally)

They found (slide 18) no significant effect of RIFA on either tick species and that Gulf Coast Ticks did better than the Lone Star Ticks in the burned habitat with higher temperatures and the Lone Star Ticks did better in the unburned habitat.  The ticks did not have to survive burning; however, they had to survive the habitat after the vegetation was alive and well.

They found (slide 19) that burning gave an open canopy with sunlight being able to reach through to the forest floor causing higher temps and lower humidity.  The unburned sites conversely had closed canopy with a leaf litter understory causing lower temps and higher humidity which is more conducive for tick populations.

In essence – fire causes a forest structure that is less conducive to tick populations and lowers ticks and pathogen prevalence (slide 20).

The bottom line is they found (slide 21):

No Borrelia burgdorferi in the black legged ticks they collected.

  • .02 infected ticks per hour in all burned sites
  • .70 infected ticks per hour in unburned sites

Burning gave a 98% reduction in ticks.



Well, now we know. Burning SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCES TICKS.  Let there be no question.

I’m very thankful for this work as it lays to rest the idea that burning isn’t worth it.  I would say that a 78-98% reduction in ticks to be worth it!   These data indicate that regular prescribed burning is an effective tool for reducing tick populations and ultimately may reduce risk of tick-borne disease.

Those of you in states where funding is increasing for tick reduction, copy this off and get it to your representatives.  Burning is not toxic like pesticides often used to reduce ticks.  It also works.  I have to think it’s economical compared to many other options as well.















Ticks & TBI’s in Kentucky

Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018 Mar 1. pii: S1877-959X(17)30571-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2018.02.016. [Epub ahead of print]

Widespread distribution of ticks and selected tick-borne pathogens in Kentucky (USA).

Lockwood BH1, Stasiak I2, Pfaff MA1, Cleveland CA1, Yabsley MJ3.
Author information

The geographical distribution of Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma maculatum ticks is poorly understood in Kentucky. We conducted a convenience survey of wildlife species (white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), elk (Cervus canadensis) and black bears (Ursus americanus) for ticks from October 2015 to January 2017. We detected four tick species including Amblyomma americanum, Dermacentor albipictus, I. scapularis and A. maculatum. Although the former two tick species were previously known to be widely distributed in Kentucky, we also found that I. scapularis and A. maculatum were also widespread. Because of the limited data available for pathogens from I. scapularis and A. maculatum, we tested them for Borrelia and Rickettsia spp. by polymerase chain reaction assays. Prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Rickettsia parkeri were 11% and 3%, respectively. These data indicate that public health measures are important to prevent tick-borne diseases in Kentucky.



The data is going to continue to pour in from all over.  Those in the South have long been pushed aside, denied diagnosis and treatment due to certain ticks or diseases. “not being there.”  Somebody has to be the first case, but if you don’t allow a first case, “it doesn’t exist there.”  It’s like being trapped in a Kafka novel with no way out.

I wish they would test these ticks for more than the one or two pathogens that seem popular these days.  There are approximately 16 diseases that ticks can spread.  Authorities are still bickering about Bartonella being transmitted by ticks; however, the majority of patients I work with all have Bart, making transmission by ticks highly probable. (The number is more like 16 not 6.  It’s probably more than that.)

Borrelia miyamotoi
Bourbon Virus
Colorado Tick Fever
Heartland Virus
Meat Allergy/Alpha Gal
Pacific Coast Tick Fever: Richettsia philipii
Powassan Encephalitis
Q Fever
Rickettsia parkeri Richettsiosis
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
STARI: Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness
Rick Paralysis

Then there’s the whole issue of other insects being able to transmit.

We have a lot of work to do and a lot of answers to find.



PCR of Skin Infections With Eschar on Travelers – Rickettsia Most Detected

Seek and Find! PCR analyses of skin infections in West-European travelers returning from abroad with an eschar.

 Travel Med Infect Dis. 2018.


BACKGROUND: Skin infections are among the leading causes of diseases in travelers. Diagnosing pathogens could be difficult.

METHOD: We applied molecular assays for the diagnostic of a large collection of skin biopsies and swabs from travelers with suspected skin infections. All samples were tested by qPCR for Coxiella burnetti, Bartonella sp., Rickettsia sp., Borrelia sp., Ehrlichia sp., Tropheryma whipplei, Francisella tularensis, Mycobacteria sp., Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Leishmania spp., Ortho poxvirus and Para poxvirus and then screened for the presence of bacteria by PCR amplification and sequencing, targeting the 16S rRNA gene.

RESULTS: From January 2009 to January 2017, 100 international travelers presenting with a suspected skin infection were enrolled. We detected 51 patients with an identified pathogen on skin samples. Travelers presenting with eschars were more likely to have a positive PCR sample (n = 44/76, 57.9%) compared to other patients (n = 7/24, 29.2%). Spotted fever group Rickettsia (n = 28) was the most frequently detected pathogens (19 R. africae, 6 R. conorii, 3 R. mongolitimonae); S. aureus were detected in 11 patients; S. pyogenes in 3; Leishmania sp.; M. leprae and B. henselae in 1 patient, respectively.

CONCLUSION: By targeting the most commonly encountered causative agents of travel-related skin infections, our strategy provides a sensitive and rapid diagnostic method.



Italy – 5 year Tick Survey

A five-year survey of tick species and identification of tick-borne bacteria in Sardinia, Italy.


Chisu V1Foxi C2Mannu R3Satta G2Masala G2.

 Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018.


Sardinia is a hotspot for studying tick-borne diseases in the Mediterranean region, where cases of notifiable tick-borne diseases are increasing. The aim of this study was to determine the presence of tick-borne bacteria of medical and veterinary importance in ixodid ticks collected from domestic and wild animals, humans, and vegetation from different collection sites in Sardinia. Using standard PCR and sequencing techniques, the presence of Rickettsia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and Bartonella species, as well as Coxiella burnetii was evaluated. A total of 1619 ticks were morphologically identified as Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato, R. bursa, R. annulatus, Dermacentor marginatus, Haemaphysalis punctata, Ha. sulcata, Hyalomma lusitanicum, H. marginatum, Ixodes festai (sometimes referred to erroneously as I. ventalloi), and Argas reflexus. Results indicated the presence of several circulating pathogens in Sardinian ticks. DNA of Rickettsia species was detected in 58 out of 1619 (4%) belonging to R. sanguineus s.l., D. marginatus, Ha. punctata, H. marginatum, and I. festai species. Ehrlichia canis DNA was detected in 33 out of 1619 ticks (2%) belonging to R. sanguineus s.l., R. bursa, and Ha. punctata species. A total of 61 out of 1619 (4%) ticks (R. sanguineus s. l., R. bursa, Ha. punctata, and I. festai) tested positive for Anaplasma spp. Coxiella burnetii was detected in 21 out of 1619 (1%) ticks belonging to R. sanguineus s.l., R. bursa, R. annulatus, and H. marginatum species. Five R. sanguineus s.l. and one R. bursa ticks were positive for the presence of Bartonella sp. 16S rRNA gene. Our findings expand the knowledge on tick-borne microorganism repertoires and tick distribution in Sardinia. Tick distribution should be monitored for effective control of these arthropods and the infections they transmit.


For More:

Neglected Vector-borne Zoonoses in Europe

Neglected vector-borne zoonoses in Europe: Into the wild.

Tomassone L1Berriatua E2De Sousa R3Duscher GG4Mihalca AD5Silaghi C6Sprong H7Zintl A8. Vet Parasitol. 2018.


Wild vertebrates are involved in the transmission cycles of numerous pathogens. Additionally, they can affect the abundance of arthropod vectors. Urbanization, landscape and climate changes, and the adaptation of vectors and wildlife to human habitats represent complex and evolving scenarios, which affect the interface of vector, wildlife and human populations, frequently with a consequent increase in zoonotic risk. While considerable attention has focused on these interrelations with regard to certain major vector-borne pathogens such as Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. and tick-borne encephalitis virus, information regarding many other zoonotic pathogens is more dispersed. In this review, we discuss the possible role of wildlife in the maintenance and spread of some of these neglected zoonoses in Europe. We present case studies on the role of rodents in the cycles of Bartonella spp., of wild ungulates in the cycle of Babesia spp., and of various wildlife species in the life cycle of Leishmania infantum, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Rickettsia spp.

These examples highlight the usefulness of surveillance strategies focused on neglected zoonotic agents in wildlife as a source of valuable information for health professionals, nature managers and (local) decision-makers. These benefits could be further enhanced by increased collaboration between researchers and stakeholders across Europe and a more harmonised and coordinated approach for data collection.



They are neglected in the U.S. too, but all play a significant role in patient case complexity.

Forget Ebola, Sars and Zika: Ticks are the Next Global Health Threat

Forget Ebola, Sars and Zika: ticks are the next global health threat

Ticks carry a wide array of pathogens – and environmental changes mean they are spreading

A blacklegged tick - also known as a deer tick.

Since the beginning of our species we have been at war. It’s a continuous, neverending fight against the smallest of adversaries: armies of pathogens and parasites. As we have developed new ways to survive and stop them, they have evolved ever more complex and ingenious methods to thwart our efforts.

Humans have faced numerous attempts to challenge our dominance on planet Earth and from the Black Death to the Spanish flu, we have weathered them all. However, since the start of the 21st century, with its trend towards global interconnectedness, these onslaughts are ever-increasing. In the past 17 years we have battled Sars, the Ebola virusMers, and more recently the mysterious mosquito-borne Zika virus. These diseases seeming to appear from nowhere and rapidly ravage our populations. One commonality is that they almost always originate in animals before jumping across to people, and few parasites are as good at jumping between animals and people as the tick.

Ticks could be best described as the used syringes of the natural world due to their promiscuous feeding habits. Most ticks go through three stages in their lives and feed on a different host at each stage, whilst simultaneously collecting hitchhiking microbes in their blood meals. Ticks also have one of the widest distributions of any vector on Earth – they can be found on every continent, including frigid Antarctica. This combination of ubiquity and a bad habit for accumulating pathogenic microbes make ticks some of the most dangerous vectors on the planet.

So why ticks? And why now?

Partly, it’s because ticks have been understudied for so long that only recently have we begun to realise just how much they affect our health. It took until 1975 for the infamous Lyme disease even to be formally described, and today the list of microbes found within ticks grows ever larger every year as numerous new species are discovered.

An engorged tick removed from a host.
An engorged tick removed from a host. Photograph: Astrid860/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Changing ecosystems are also forcing ticks into closer contact with humans. Perhaps the most immediate changes are being driven by land clearing, which is forcing wildlife into closer contact with humans; with wildlife come ticks and the diseases they carry. Climate change has also been implicated: as the climate gets warmer, some ticks are expanding their ranges into places where cool winter temperatures previously limited their distribution. Geographical boundaries are also being eroded as rapid transport links environments which were previously isolated from one another. This presents easy opportunity for ticks to cross borders and spread to new habitats they may not have previously occupied.

In short, our manipulation of the environment has set the stage for a tick-driven health crisis.

Ticks can carry an extremely wide array of human pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Within the long list of human ailments caused by ticks, several dangerous diseases stand out.

While the recognition of Lyme disease has led to a greater study of the bacteria which cause it and more frequent testing for patients, it has been a double-edged sword, as its notoriety has overshadowed equally important diseases like tick-borne rickettsiosis (TBR). TBR is caused by a number of different bacteria distributed across the globe. Unfortunately, TBR often presents with signs and symptoms similar to Lyme disease, such as rashes, joint and muscle pain, and fatigue. Although deaths are rare when TBR is treated with antibiotics like doxycycline, when the disease is incorrectly diagnosed or adequate medical infrastructure is lacking, mortalities can still occur.

Babesiosis is an emerging tick-borne disease caused by a protozoan called Babesia, a species related to the microbe which causes malaria. The disease is rarely tested for by doctors and the global levels of human infection are unknown, although some researchers believe that they may be much higher than present rates of diagnosis indicate. Infections can be highly variable, with about a quarter of infected adults showing no signs of the disease, while others will die from the infection. In truth the disease is still poorly understood in humans, which is compounded by the fact that several species of Babesia cause the disease and the signs and symptoms can be wide-ranging and often include fever, fatigue, anaemia, and nausea – all common features of other illnesses.

The distinctive “bullseye” marking caused by a bite from a deer tick.
The distinctive “bullseye” marking caused by a bite from a deer tick. Photograph: anakopa/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is perhaps the most terrifying disease spread by ticks, as there are no treatments available, and mortality rates can be as high as 40% in infected humans. To put it into perspective, that mortality rate is similar to untreated cases of Ebola or the bubonic plague. The World Health Organisation views CCHF virus as having a high chance of causing human disease epidemics and has accordingly directed considerable funding towards finding a treatment, although to date none have been developed. The wide distribution of tick vectors capable of spreading the disease coupled with the ability of common domestic animals such as sheep and cattle to maintain the CCHF virus in their blood at high levels means the potential for CCHF to expand into new regions like Europe is highly probable.

While only discovered in 2009, SFTS virus (severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome) has sparked widespread fear through much of Asia, especially in Japan where 57 people have died of the disease since 2013. Signs of the disease can range in severity from relatively mild, like fever and diarrhoea, to severe, which can include multiple organ failure. The fact that the epidemiology of the disease is so poorly known makes predicting and controlling its spread difficult. It is also known to be carried by at least two cosmopolitan tick species which are spread throughout the world from the UK, to the US, and even Australia. That might sounds bad enough, but things are even worse: although the disease typically gets to humans via a tick, from there it can spread to other humans or their pets and back again into ticks who feed on infected hosts.

Ticks are ubiquitous, dangerous, and are coming into ever greater contact with us. We must recognise that the next public health crisis may come from our backyards rather than a remote equatorial jungle in Africa or Asia.



I’m thankful the article points out that other pathogens are involved.  For those with Lyme as well as these other pathogens (which is common), they typically have more severe cases and require longer and more extensive treatment.  

Ticks carry many viruses, and tick bites as well as vaccines can ignite dormant viruses in the body:  Many Lyme/MSIDS patients have reactivated Epstein Bar Virus (EBV).

The Cabal still denies ticks transmit Bart; however, many feel otherwise.  This is why all the research in the world put out by the Cabal will never touch Bart.  It doesn’t fit the narrative.  The fly in the ointment is similar to sexual transmission for Lyme, the organisms have been found but there isn’t conclusive proof of transmission.  Many of these pathogens are fastidious and hard to study in a lab.  All case studies are ignored.

I’m always fascinated that Bartonella and Mycoplasma are rarely mentioned in regards to coinfections by mainstream news – as according to experts Dr. Nicholson and Dr. Breitshwerdt, they are probably the TOP coinfections with Lyme.  

More on Bartonella:  Bartonella is a bacteria transmitted by fleas, ticks, animals, even spiders, but few people know about it.

More on Myco:  This 1997 article even implicates Myco with Gulf War Syndrome, despite the CDC denying, denying, denying it.


Bb Infected Ticks in Iowa

Range Expansion and Increasing Borrelia burgdorferi Infection of the Tick Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) in Iowa, 1990-2013.

Oliver JD, Bennett SW, Beati L, Bartholomay LC.
Journal of Medical Entomology. 2017 Nov 7;54(6):1727-1734.


A passive surveillance program monitored ticks submitted by the public in Iowa from 1990–2013. Submitted ticks were identified to species and life stage, and Ixodes scapularis Say nymphs and adults were tested for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi.

An average of 2.6 of Iowa’s 99 counties submitted first reports of I. scapularis per year over the surveillance period, indicating expansion of this tick species across the state. The proportion of vector ticks infected by B. burgdorferi increased over time between 1998 and 2013.

In 2013, 23.5% of nymphal and adult I. scapularis were infected with B. burgdorferi, the highest proportion of any year. Active surveillance was performed at selected sites from 2007–2009. Ixodes scapularis nymphs collected at these sites were tested for the presence of B. burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and spotted fever group Rickettsia spp. (likely representing Rickettsia buchneri).

Nymphs tested were 17.3% positive for B. burgdorferi, 28.9% for A. phagocytophilum, and 67.3% for Rickettsia spp. The results of these surveillance programs indicate an increasing risk of disease transmission by I. scapularis in Iowa.


For more:  “Go here: for a great article on how Andrew Spielman’s tick maps ruled Lyme Land like the iron curtain, and frankly still do, dictating where Lyme is and is not. (nothing’s changed)”