Isolation and molecular detection of Ehrlichia species from ticks in western, central, and eastern Japan
Publication date: Available online 13 November 2018
Source: Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases
Author(s): Masakatsu Taira, Shuji Ando, Hiroki Kawabata, Hiromi Fujita, Teruki Kadosaka, Hiroko Sato, Naoto Monma, Norio Ohashi, Masayuki Saijo
Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne bacterial disease caused by pathogens of the Ehrlichia genus. Although human ehrlichiosis has not been reported in Japan, Ehrlichia spp., which are closely related to Ehrlichia chaffeensis, were detected in several species of ixodid ticks. In this study, the presence of Ehrlichia spp. in ticks in Japan was studied by using isolation and molecular detection methods. In total, 1,237 ticks were collected from vegetation in western, central, and eastern parts of Japan. The ticks were tested for detection of ehrlichial DNA with a nested polymerase chain reaction and/or isolation by inoculation of mice with the homogenate. Ehrlichial DNA was detected in 29 of these ticks. The ehrlichial DNAs, groEL and 16S rRNA genes, detected in Ixodes turdus showed a high similarity to those of E. chaffeensis with 94.7% and 99.2% identity, respectively. Ehrlichia sp. HF and Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis were also detected in I. ovatus. Furthermore, Ehrlichia sp. HF was isolated from laboratory mice that were intraperitoneal inoculated with I. ovatus tick homogenate. Some ehrlichial agents detected in Ixodes ticks might be a previously unknown Ehrlichia species. In this study, Candidatus N. mikurensis was detected in I. ovatus ticks. Because I. ovatus is distributed widely and cases of its tick bite in humans are ubiquitously reported in Japan, there is a potential for ehrlichiosis to be endemic to Japan, necessitating intensive surveillance of this infectious disease.