Archive for the ‘Rickettsia’ Category

Tick-borne Pathogens Bartonella spp., Borrelia Burgdorferi Sensu Lato, Coxiella Burnetii & Rickettsia Spp. May Trigger Endocarditis

2019 Jul;28(7):957-963. doi: 10.17219/acem/94159.

Tick-borne pathogens Bartonella spp., Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Coxiella burnetii and Rickettsia spp. may trigger endocarditis.



Infections caused by tick-borne pathogens such as Bartonella spp., Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., Coxiella burnetii and Rickettsia spp. are capable of causing serious lesions of the mitral and aortic valves, leading to a need for valve replacement.


The aim of the study was to determine whether such cases are sporadic or frequent. An additional goal was to establish effective diagnostic methods to detect these infections.


The study involved 148 patients undergoing valve replacement. Blood samples were drawn for serological testing. Samples of the removed mitral and aortic valves were tested with PCR and immunohistochemical staining.


Specific antibodies to

  • Bartonella spp. were detected in 47 patients (31.7%) and in 1 of the healthy controls (1%) (p < 0.05)
  • B. burgdorferi spirochetes were found in 18 of the patients (12.2%) and in 6 blood donors from the control group (5.8%) (p < 0.1)
  • Rickettsia spp. were detected in 12 (8.1%) 
  • C. burnetii phase I and II antigens in the serum of 1 patient. All the participants in the control group were seronegative to C. burnetii and Rickettsia spp. antigens.
  • PCR tests for detection of Bartonella spp., B. burgdorferi s.l., C. burnetii and Rickettsia spp. DNA in the valve samples were all negative.

Inflammation foci with mononuclear lymphoid cells in the aortic and mitral valves were seen in sections stained with hematoxiline and eozine. In sections dyed using the indirect immunofluorescence method with hyperimmune sera, Bartonella spp. and Rickettsia spp. were found.


The results obtained indicate that laboratory diagnostics for patients with heart disorders should be expanded to include tests detecting tick-borne zoonoses such as bartonelloses, Lyme borreliosis, rickettsioses and Q fever.



This article shows that tick borne pathogens are common with patients needing heart valve replacements. Unfortunately, testing still isn’t accurate. Finding antibodies, authorities would argue, doesn’t mean a person has symptoms; however, this issue desperately needs further research as finding antibodies does indicate the presence of pathogens.

A point to be made about the low percentage of those testing positive for Lyme might be due to the fact they only tested one strain: Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato.  There are 300 strains worldwide and 100 in the U.S. (and counting).

Bartonella is similar in the fact that a recent article pointed out that a 14-year-old boy with PANS caused by Bartonella henselae infection was NOT seropositive. Only one of the three blood samples tested positive before culturing and only two tested positive after culturing. A single blood draw might have missed confirming a diagnosis of bartonellosis.

How many doctors are going to hunt these infections to ground? How many have the time and doggedness it requires to find them? It’s far more likely they will take the results from a singular test, close the book, and move onto the next patient.

We desperately need accurate tests that pick up ALL the pathogens.




Tick Expert Admits to ‘Working on Ticks’ & Dropping Them Out of Airplanes

Tick Expert Admits to ‘Working on Ticks’ & Dropping Them Out of Airplanes

The following full-length interview with James H. Oliver, Jr. is an eye opener on the type of work that’s been done on ticks and mosquitoes.

He’s described by Pamela Weintraub in the book, Cure Unknown, as a “world-class entomologist” for figuring out that the southern U.S. had Lyme Disease by finding 300 southern genetic strains of Borrelia, 57 of which are nearly identical to the northern pathogen and are classified as Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto. He also discovered two new species, Borrelia americana and Borrelia carolinensis that could potentially help explain why many in the South suffer with Lyme yet are not testing positive on current tests.

Oliver was responsible for producing ticks and mosquitos, running distribution tests, and determining factors that would cause migration for the Army.

Oliver also worked in Australia where he found ticks on snakes there.

The Navy used Oliver in Uganda, where he stayed at the Rockefeller Institute, as their acarologist where he collected ticks.

For full interview:

James H. Oliver, Jr.: Ticks, Lyme Disease, and a Golden Gloves Champion


Marlin E. Rice & James H. Oliver, Jr. Ticks, Lyme Disease, and a Golden Gloves Champion. American Entomologist (2016) 62 (4): 206–213, doi:10.1093/ae/tmw073. Published by Oxford University Press/ on behalf of the Entomological Society of America.


For more:

North Central Integrated Pest Alert


They have the following for ticks and specific diseases:


Kentucky: More Than Two Dozen Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Cases Reported in Grayson County

Kentucky: More than two dozen Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases reported in Grayson County

July 22, 2019

By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Health officials in Grayson County, Kentucky are reporting a recent increase in cases of the tickborne disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF).

Characteristic spotted rash of Rocky Mountain spotted fever/CDC








They report receiving 26 cases of RMSF since July 7, 2019.

Dr. Bryce Meredith made the following statement, “We are seeing an increase in tick-borne illnesses in Grayson and the surrounding counties. Individuals should have heightened awareness regarding ticks in our area. The most common illnesses are Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.”

RMSF is a tick borne disease caused by the organism, Rickettsia rickettsii. Typically, the progress of the disease is a sudden onset of high fever, deep muscle pain, severe headache and chills. A rash usually appears on the extremities within 5 days then soon spreads to palms and soles and then rapidly to the trunk.

Fatalities can be seen in greater than 20% of untreated cases. Death is uncommon with prompt recognition and treatment. Still approximately 3-5% of cases seen in the U.S. are fatal. The absence or delayed appearance of the typical rash or the failure to recognize it, especially in dark-skinned people cause a delay in diagnosis and increased fatalities.

Early stages of RMSF can be confused with erlichiosis, meningococcal meningitis and enteroviral infection.

They are asking residents to ensure they are protecting their family, pets, and yourselves properly while outdoors.

If you find a tick, please remove it appropriately. Also, if you feel fatigued (tired) or having a headache that will not go away, consider seeing your family healthcare provider for tick borne illness testing.

Dr Meredith said, “Ticks are commonly in woods, grassy, or bushy areas. If individuals are planning on being in these areas, they should plan accordingly and wear long sleeves, long pants tucked into your socks, and use an EPA approved insect and tick repellent. Once an individual has returned inside, they should check their clothes and body for ticks. Early awareness and early tick removal is particularly important. Typically, if an individual removes a tick within 24-48 hours, this decreases the rate of disease transmission. I encourage individuals to contact their physician if a tick has been attached for an undetermined time or if they develop fever, rash, chills, or vague symptoms such as new onset unexplained dizziness or excessive fatigue.”

RMSF & the importance of timely treatment: Outbreak News Interviews
Do not hesitate to use doxycycline in children. New research demonstrates it will NOT hurt children’s teeth.


For more:  Please note the last quote of the story – that they proved a tropical form of tick typhus in one of tropical ticks found in Germany. Typhus, a bacteria, is making a comeback, particularly in the South. Common in the U.S. in the 40’s, and normally attributed to lice, now it’s been proven to be in a tick. In other words, another disease and a tick found where they supposedly shouldn’t be.
Typus is a rickettsial infection with ticks carring numerous species including rickettsia, ehrlichia, and anaplasma. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is also considered a tick-borne typhus fever. Divided into the typhus group and the spotted fever group, disease is transmitted through ectoparasites (fleas, lice, mites, and ticks). Inhalation and inoculating conjunctiva with infectious material can also cause disease. The good news for most is that doxycycline is a front-line drug for it. Broad-spectrum antibiotics aren’t helpful.


If interested:







Human Seroprevalence of Tick-Borne Anaplasma, Lyme, and Rickettsia Species in Northern California

2019 Jul 11. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2019.2489. [Epub ahead of print]

Human Seroprevalence of Tick-Borne Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Rickettsia Species in Northern California.


There is a paucity of data on human exposure to tick-borne pathogens in the western United States. This study reports prevalence of antibodies against three clinically important tick-borne pathogens (Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Rickettsia spp.) among 249 people in five counties in northern California. Individuals from Humboldt County were recruited and answered a questionnaire to assess risk of exposure to tick-borne pathogens. Samples from other counties were obtained from a blood bank and were anonymized. Seventeen (6.8%) samples were seropositive for antibodies against at least one pathogen: five for A. phagocytophilum, eight for B. burgdorferi, and four for Rickettsia spp. Women and people aged 26-35 had higher seroprevalence compared to other demographic groups. Santa Cruz County had no seropositive individuals, northern Central Valley counties had three seropositive individuals (all against A. phagocytophilum), and Humboldt County had 14 (all three pathogens), a significant, four-fold elevated risk of exposure. The Humboldt County questionnaire revealed that a bird feeder in the yard was statistically associated with exposure to ticks, and lifetime number of tick bites was associated with increasing age, time watching wildlife, and time hiking. Three-quarters of respondents were concerned about tick-associated disease, 81.0% reported experiencing tick bites, and 39.0% of those bitten reported a tick-borne disease symptom, including skin lesions (76.4%), muscle aches (49.1%), joint pain (25.5%), or fever (23.6%).

Despite high levels of concern, many individuals who had been bitten by a tick were not tested for a tick-borne pathogen, including those with consistent symptoms.

We highlight the need for further research and dissemination of information to residents and physicians in Northern California regarding tick-associated disease, so that appropriate medical attention can be rapidly sought and administered.



Again, the numbers are going to be much higher as they used the abysmal serology testing which tests for antibodies – not the organisms.

More on California:

Seroepidemiological & Molecular Investigation of Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiae & Coxiella Burnetii in Sao Tome Island: A One Health Approach

Seroepidemiological and molecular investigation of spotted fever group rickettsiae and Coxiella burnetii in Sao Tome Island: A One Health approach.


Spotted fever group rickettsiae (SFGR) and Coxiella burnetii are intracellular bacteria that cause potentially life-threatening tick-borne rickettsioses and Q fever respectively. Sao Tome and Principe (STP), small islands located in the Gulf of Guinea, recently experienced a dramatic reduction in the incidence of malaria owing to international collaborative efforts. However, unexplained febrile illnesses persist. A One Health approach was adopted to investigate exposure to SFGR and C. burnetii in humans and examine the diversity of these bacteria in ticks parasitizing domestic ruminants. A cross-sectional human serological study was conducted in Agua Grande district in Sao Tome Island from January to March 2016, and ticks were collected from farmed domestic ruminants in 2012 and 2016. In total, 240 individuals varying in age were randomly screened for exposure to SFGR and C. burnetii by indirect immunofluorescence assay. Twenty of 240 individuals (8.3%) were seropositive for SFGR (4 for Rickettsia africae and 16 for R. conorii) and 16 (6.7%) were seropositive for C. burnetii. Amblyomma astrion were collected exclusively in 2012, as were A. variegatum in 2016 and Rickettsia spp. were detected in 22/42 (52.4%) and 49/60 (81.7%) respectively. Sequence analysis of multiple gene targets from Rickettsia spp. detected in ticks suggests the presence of a single divergent R. africae strain (Sao Tome). While no ticks were found positive for C. burnetii, Coxiella-like endosymbionts were detected in nearly all ticks.

This is the first study in STP to provide serological evidence in humans of SFGR and C. burnetii and additional molecular evidence in ticks for SFGR, which may be responsible for some of the unexplained febrile illnesses that persist despite the control of malaria. Future epidemiological studies are needed to confirm the occurrence and risk factors associated with SFG rickettsioses and Q fever in both humans and animals.


For more:

Great article on SFGR:

C. burnetii:  Excerpt: 

The CDC reports that 60% of cases are in patients without livestock contact (CDC unpublished data, 2010) and the need for health-care professionals to consider Q fever in the differential diagnosis in patients with a compatible illness, even in the absence of occupational risk or history of direct contact with animal reservoirs.

Supposedly, he United States ended its biological warfare program in 1969. When it did, C. burnetii was one of seven agents it had standardized as biological weapons.

Q Fever can cause acute or chronic illness.
Excellent video by Alicia Anderson, DVM, MPH on new CDC guidelines for Q Fever  African patients presenting with fever but testing negative for malaria had DNA for these pathogens: Borrelia spp., Francisella spp. Rickettsia spp. and Bartonella. Thus, in this rural area of Africa, febrile symptoms could be due to bacteria transmitted by arthropods.




Deadly Ticks Carrying Ebola-like Congo Fever ‘found in UK After Spreading Across Europe’

Deadly ticks carrying Ebola-like Congo fever ‘found in UK after spreading across Europe’

NINTCHDBPICT000498772073This is one of the so-called Hyalomma ‘super ticks’ which have been found in Germany

A TICK capable of carrying killer Ebola-like viruses has been found in the UK after spreading across Europe, health officials say.

The blood-sucking Hyalomma rufipes tick is usually only found in Africa, Asia and parts of southern Europe.

Central European News

But Public Health England says that one, which was 10 times larger than average, was discovered in Dorset last year.

Tests found the creature was carrying Rickettsia spotted fever, which can cause headaches, cramps and blisters in humans.

But the ticks are also known to carry the deadly Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus (CCHF) – a deadly disease dubbed the “next Ebola.”

The horrific virus, which is also known as Congo Fever, results in death in around two fifths of all cases – and there are no proven vaccines available to prevent it.

Those unlucky enough to catch the disease often suffer from internal bleeding, before organ failure strikes down the sufferer.

Ebola is also categorised as a hemorrhagic fever virus, according to the World Health Organisation.

A recent outbreak of the disease in Uganda has left two people dead, including a five-year-old boy, while nearly 1,400 have died in Congo since August.

Tick found in Dorset

The tick was removed from a horse by a vet at The Barn Equine Surgery in Wimborne, Dorset, last September and sent to PHE for analysis.

Kayleigh Hansford, who led the agency’s tick surveillance team, writing in the journal Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, said:

“This is the first time Hyalomma rufipes has been reported in the United Kingdom.

“The lack of travel by the horse – or any in-contact horses – suggests that this could also be the first evidence of successful moulting of a Hyalomma nymph in the UK.”

She said it is suspected that the tick hitched a ride on a migratory bird before landing in the UK.

Neither the infested horse, nor other horses in the stable had travelled anywhere and no further ticks were detected on any of the horses.

It is thought the tick probably travelled on a swallow because they tend to nest in the stables of horses and migrate from Africa to the UK for summer.

‘Threat to public health’

The worrying find could “present a threat to public health in the UK”, the PHE said.

It’s not known whether any more of the ticks have been found in Britain this year, but so far there have been six reported cases in Germany.

Experts in Munich believe the bugs have mutated to survive cold winters – and don’t believe they could have been brought to the country by birds.

Dr Ute Mackenstedt, a parasitologist at the University of Hohenheim, said:

“If the development cycle is taken into account, this cannot be the case here, as the ticks would have had to have been introduced at a time where the migratory birds had not even arrived.

“According to the latest evidence, we have to presume that these animals are able to survive the winters in Germany.”

But he also pointed out that this does not mean that the Hyalomma are home grown.

What is Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever?

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus.

It’s usually carried by a wide range of wild and domestic animals such as cattle, sheep and goats.

The virus is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood.

The majority of cases have occurred in people involved in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians.

Human-to-human transmission can occur resulting from close contact with the blood, organs or bodily fluids of someone infected.

Signs and symptoms

The time between catching the infection and symptoms appearing is usually one to three days.

Onset of symptoms is sudden and can include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle ache
  • Dizziness
  • Neck pain
  • Backache
  • Headache
  • Sore eyes
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain
  • Sore throat
  • Sharp mood swings
  • Confusion

After two to four days, the agitation may be replaced by sleepiness, depression and the stomach pain may have moved.

Other clinical signs include fast heart rate, enlarged lymph nodes and a petechial rash – caused by bleeding into the skin – on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth and throat, and on the skin.

There is usually evidence of hepatitis, and severely ill patients may experience rapid kidney deterioration, sudden liver failure or pulmonary failure after the fifth day of illness.

Mortality rate is 30 per cent, with death occurring in the second week of illness.

In patients who recover, improvement generally begins on the ninth or tenth day after the onset of illness.

Source: World Health Organisation

Dr Mackenstedt added:

“For the population to expand, a male and a female tick would have to find each other. This is very difficult with such a small number.”

However, five of the Hyalomma ticks were found on a horse at a stables, meaning there is the possibility of a possible pairing – and as a result, the emergence of an independent population.

Last year, German scientists warned about several tropical ticks living in the country – thought to be because of rising temperatures.

Scientists registered a total of seven specimens of the genus Hyalomma in Lower Saxony and Hesse in August 2018.

Meanwhile only two tropical ticks have been found in Germany before, one in 2015 and one in 2017.

The Hyalomma ticks are very noticeable and can grow to as long as 2cm, substantially larger than the local common wood tick.

NINTCHDBPICT000498772067The massive Hyalomma tick, right, compared to a normal-sized deer tick
Central European News

They are recognised by their unusual size and their striped legs.

Hyalomma originated from Iran or the southern part of the former Soviet Union and spread into Asia, the Middle East, southern Europe, and Africa.

Tick bites can cause a number of diseases which in some cases can be fatal such tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease.

Hyalomma species can also carry Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, which has already claimed one Brit victim back in 2012.

The 38-year-old man died hours after returning from a wedding in Afghanistan.


For more on the Monster Tick & CCHF:  The one within this link is H. marginatum.

H. rufipes on the UK horse: