Archive for the ‘Rickettsia’ Category

Northern & Southern CA Cats have Bartonella and Rickettsia – Proven by 16S rRNA Next Gen Sequencing

Assessing Cat Flea Microbiomes in Northern and Southern California by 16S rRNA Next-Generation Sequencing.

Vasconcelos EJR, et al. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2018.

Flea-borne diseases (FBDs) impact both human and animal health worldwide. Because adult fleas are obligately hematophagous and can harbor potential pathogens, fleas act as ectoparasites of vertebrates, as well as zoonotic disease vectors. Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are important vectors of two zoonotic bacterial genera listed as priority pathogens by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID-USA): Bartonella spp. and Rickettsia spp., causative agents of bartonelloses and rickettsioses, respectively.

In this study, we introduce the first microbiome analysis of C. felis samples from California, determining the presence and abundance of relevant pathogenic genera by characterizing the cat flea microbiome through 16S rRNA next-generation sequencing (16S-NGS). Samples from both northern (NoCal) and southern (SoCal) California were assessed to expand current knowledge regarding FBDs in the state. We identified Rickettsia and Bartonella, as well as the endosymbiont Wolbachia, as the most abundant genera, followed by less abundant taxa. In comparison to our previous study screening Californian cat fleas for rickettsiae using PCR/digestion/sequencing of the ompB gene, the 16S-NGS approach applied herein showed a 95% level of agreement in detecting Rickettsia spp. There was no overall difference in microbiome diversity between NoCal and SoCal samples. Bacterial taxa identified by 16S-NGS in this study may help to improve epidemiological investigations, pathogen surveillance efforts, and clinical diagnostics of FBDs in California and elsewhere.



Bartonella and Rickettsia spp. are also diseases Lyme/MSIDS patients have to contend with.  There is no good, solid research studying the ability of ticks to transmit Bartonella, yet most of us out here in Lyme land have it.  Rickettsia’s out here too in plenty.  I would think this important issue would be dealt with.  Somehow patients are getting these diseases and its either happening by direct transmission or by being activated once they get Lyme and their immune systems become compromised.

Either way, this issue MUST be studied, resolved, and appropriately death with.

Mainstream medicine is completely lost when it comes to tick borne illnesses such as these.  Lyme is finally getting acknowledged due to shear numbers, but don’t kid yourself, thousands upon thousands have Bartonella and Rickettsia as well.  The one drug, one pathogen paradigm needs to be forgotten like a bad dream and researchers and doctors need to become educated on this complex 21st Century plague.

BTW:  Wolbachia is being widely used as a biocontrol.  Here’s why that may not be such a great idea:

It is my strong opinion that ALL of these factors are a perfect storm of events causing human suffering and disease.  Researchers need to zoom out and look at the big picture and the interconnection of things or we are doomed.

First Longhorned Tick Confirmed in Arkansas  (News Video here)

First Longhorned Tick confirmed in Arkansas

The USDA confirmed the presence of the Longhorned Tick in Arkansas for the first time.

The tick came from a dog in Benton County, according to the Arkansas Agriculture Department.

The Longhorned Tick is an exotic East Asian tick associated with bacterial and viral disease of both humans and animals. The USDA considers it a serious threat to livestock.

The tick is also believed to cause diseases in humans, including severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome. That disease was described in a 2014 CDC dispatch as “a newly emerging infectious disease.”

Multiorgan failure occurs in severe cases, and 6%-30% of case-patients die,” according to the dispatch.

The Longhorned Tick was first confirmed to be in the United States in November 2017, when a specimen was identified in New Jersey. It has also been found in Virginia and West Virginia.

Longhorned Ticks are very small and resemble tiny spiders. The Arkansas Agriculture Department warns they can easily go unnoticed on animals and people.

The department asks that animal owners, veterinarians and farmers notify the Arkansas Agriculture Department if they notice unusual ticks or ticks that occur in large numbers on a single animal.



The spread of the “tick from hell” has begun.  The reason we need to take note of this particular tick:


  2. It can drain cattle of their blood:
  3. It spreads SFTS (sever fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome), “an emerging hemorrhagic fever,” causing fever, fatigue, headache, nausea, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, disease of the lymph nodes, and conjunctival congestion, but the potential impact of this tick on tickborne illness is not yet known. In other parts of the world, this Longhorned tick, also called the East Asian or bush tick, has been associated with several tickborne diseases, such as spotted fever rickettsioses, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and Borrelia, the causative agent of Lyme Disease.
  4. A top ecologist wonders if infection by this tick has gone undetected in the past.
  5. There isn’t a systematic national method to look for invasive ticks.
  6. It’s quickly showing up in other states:
  7. It survives cold temps:  (Again, the spread infection has ZIPPO to do with climate change)

For a 2016 literature review on SFTS:

Although the clinical symptoms of SFTS and HGA are similar to each other, but the treatment methods of the two diseases are totally different. Doctors notice that the biggest difference between the clinical symptom of SFTS and HGA is that SFTS patients generally without skin rash, the dermorrhagia is also not seriously, and few massive hemorrhage cases were reported [23]. It is also reported that SFTS patients had gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which are rarely observed in HGA patients [2]. So these differences can be used as the auxiliary basis of differential diagnosis.

At present, there is still no specific vaccine or antiviral therapy for SFTSV infection. Supportive treatment, including plasma, platelet, granulocyte colony stimulating factor (GCSF), recombinant human interleukin 11, and gamma globulin is the most essential part of case treatment [44]. Meanwhile, some measures were taken to maintain water, electrolyte balance and treat complications are also very important.

Ribavirin is reported to be effective for treating Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) infections and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, but it is still inadequate to judge the effect of ribavirin on SFTS patients because of the study limitation without adequate parameters were investigated [45]. Host immune responses play an important role in determining the severity and clinical outcome in patients with infection by SFTSV.

For Viral treatment options:


Where Ticks Are and What They Carry – Science Conversation With Dr. Cameron  Approx. 50 Min

Dr. Daniel Cameron, a leading Lyme disease expert, discusses where are the ticks and what are the diseases they carry.



The word is finally getting out.  TICKS ARE EVERYWHERE!


Rocks and picnic benches:

Caves:, and



In the South:, and, and

Southern Hemisphere:


And everywhere else…..

Remember, there are 300 strains and counting of Borrelia worldwide and 100 strains and counting in the U.S.  Current CDC two-tiered testing tests for ONE strain!  Do the math….

For more:





Ocular Manifestations of Rickettsia in Children: Common but Frequently Overlooked

Ocular manifestations of rickettsia in children: common but frequently overlooked.

Marques SHM1,2, Guerra MG2, Almeida C2, Ribeiro M2.

We review two cases of ocular manifestations of Rickettsia conorii infection in children. A girl who presented unilateral visual loss with focal retinitis and macular oedema and a boy with unilateral central scotoma and bilateral anterior uveitis. Progressive functional and anatomic recovery was observed after oral antibiotics and steroids were initiated.


Update on TBD’s in Travelers

Update on Tick-Borne Bacterial Diseases in Travelers.

Review article

Eldin C, et al. Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2018.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Ticks are the second most important vectors of infectious diseases after mosquitoes worldwide. The growth of international tourism including in rural and remote places increasingly exposes travelers to tick bite. Our aim was to review the main tick-borne infectious diseases reported in travelers in the past 5 years.

RECENT FINDINGS: In recent years, tick-borne bacterial diseases have emerged in travelers including spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsioses, borrelioses, and diseases caused by bacteria of the Anaplasmataceae family. African tick-bite fever, due to Rickettsia africae, is the most frequent agent reported in travelers returned from Sub-Saharan areas. Other SFG agents are increasingly reported in travelers, and clinicians should be aware of them. Lyme disease can be misdiagnosed in Southern countries. Organisms causing tick-borne relapsing fever are neglected pathogens worldwide, and reports in travelers have allowed the description of new species. Infections due to Anaplasmataceae bacteria are more rarely described in travelers, but a new species of Neoehrlichia has recently been detected in a traveler. The treatment of these infections relies on doxycycline, and travelers should be informed before the trip about prevention measures against tick bites.



This review clearly shows how much work still needs to be done.  To boil down this complex illness to a round of doxycycline shows a simplistic understanding of these pathogens on steroids.  Mainstream researchers still haven’t gotten the memo that Eva Sapi reported about doxy throwing the spirochete into the non-cell wall form or the information that both pathologist Alan McDonald and microbiologist Tom Greer are finding spirochetes hiding in worms in the brains of folks with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

To announce doxy as the “one side fits all” treatment is truly uninformed.

While doxy is a great front-line drug, patients need to be monitored closely for symptoms.  Since testing is so poor, doctors should also be educated on:  Print out and complete the symptom check lists and take them with you to your appointment.

Remember, Lyme is the rock star we all know by name.  There are many wanna-be’s just as powerful often at play:  The number is actually 18 and counting.

Please encourage doctors to become educated.  It’s our only hope.

Here is an example of good Lyme treatment:

Type other pathogens into the search bar to get other treatment suggestions.  Feel free to copy these off and share with your practitioner.





Ticks From U.S. Cats: Patterns of Infestation & Infection With Pathogens

Ticks from cats in the United States: patterns of infestation and infection with pathogens

Under a Creative Commons license
open access


Tick infestations were documented on 332 cats from 18 states in the United States.

Adult and immature stages of IxodesAmblyomma, and Dermacentor were recovered.

Molecular assays documented infection with at least one pathogen in 17.1% of ticks.

One in 5 cats with ticks spent ≤30% time outdoors; 10 were reportedly indoor only.

Results show cats at risk of tick infestation and exposure to tick-borne pathogens.


Ticks are an important but under recognized parasitic threat to cats in many areas of the United States. To characterize the species and stages of ticks most commonly recovered from cats and determine the prevalence of disease agents in the ticks, we conducted a survey of ticks removed from cats at veterinary practices in 18 states from April 2016 – June 2017.

A total of 796 ticks were submitted from 332 cats from 41 different veterinary practices. A single tick was submitted from the majority of cats, with a mean infestation intensity of 2.4 (range 1–46). The most common tick was Ixodes scapularis, accounting for 422/796 (53.0%) ticks submitted, followed by Amblyomma americanum (224/796; 28.1%) and Dermacentor variabilis (131/796; 16.5%); a few I. pacificusI. banksiD. occidentalisA. maculatumRhipicephalus sanguineus, and Otobius megnini were also submitted.

A majority of ticks were adults (593/796; 74.5%); females predominated in all adult tick submissions including I. scapularis (277/327; 84.7% female), A. americanum(66/128; 51.6% female), and D. variabilis (75/126; 59.5% female). Immature ticks included 186 nymphs and 17 larvae and were primarily I. scapularis and A. americanum.

Adult I. scapularis were most reported to be attached to the dorsal head and neck; A. americanum to the abdomen and perianal region; and D. variabilis to the back and ear. Ticks were collected in every month; the largest number of submissions were in May and June (42.5% of ticks) and October and November (35.9% of ticks). Adults of I. scapularis were most commonly submitted October through DecemberA. americanum March through June, and D. variabilis May through July.

Cats with ticks were predominantly male (58.8%) and altered (76.2%), and most reportedly spent >30% of time outdoors, although 64/294 (21.8%) for which lifestyle estimates were provided were reported to live primarily (≤30% of time outside; n = 54) or entirely (100%; n = 10) indoors.

Assay of ticks removed from cats revealed I. scapularis were infected with Borrelia burgdorferi (25.7%) and Anaplasma phagocytophilum(4.4%); A. americanum were infected with Ehrlichia chaffeensis (1.3%); and D. variabilis were infected with spotted fever group Rickettsia spp. (3.1%). No ticks in this study tested positive for Cytauxzoon felis.

Pet cats, including those that live primarily indoors, are at risk of tick infestation, potentially exposed to tick-borne disease agents, and would benefit from routine tick control.



Some interesting points:

  1. Ticks were found on cats year-round
  2. The majority of ticks were ADULTS
  3. This study points out we need to essentially throw out the idea you can only get a tick bite in the spring and fall.  It also points out that adult ticks are to be taken just as seriously as nymphs.
  4. According to the study, molecular assays were used and the following pathogens found.  It says nothing of Bartonella, which is unfortunate.  We really need to determine why so many humans are infected with it.

Table 4. Pathogens detected in adult ticks recovered from cats.

Tick Pathogen % positive (No. positive/No. tested)
Ixodes scapularis Anaplasma phagocytophilum 4.4% (12/272)
Borrelia burgdorferi 25.7% (70/272)
Amblyomma americanum Cytauxzoon felis 0% (0/121)
Ehrlichia chaffeensis 1.7% (2/121)
Ehrlichia ewingii 0% (0/121)
Dermacentor variabilis Cytauxzoon felis 0% (0/123)
Rickettsia spp. 3.1% (4/123)

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.