Tick-borne pathogens in Ixodes ricinus ticks collected from migratory birds in southern Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionPedersen, B. N., Jenkins, A., & Kjelland, V. (2020). Tick-borne pathogens in Ixodes ricinus ticks collected from migratory birds in southern Norway. Plos one, 15(4), e0230579. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230579
Birds are important hosts for the first life stages of the Ixodes ricinus tick and they can transport their parasites over long distances. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Neoehrlichia mikurensis and Rickettsia helvetica in ticks collected from migratory birds in Norway. A total of 815 Ixodes ricinus ticks from 216 birds trapped at Lista Bird Observatory in southern Norway during spring and autumn migration in 2008 were analysed by real-time PCR. B. burgdorferi s. l. was the most prevalent pathogen, detected in 6.1% of the ticks. The prevalence of N. mikurensis, A. phagocytophilum and R. helvetica was 1.2%, 0.9% and 0.4% respectively. In addition, one sample (0.1%) was positive for B. miyamotoi. In total, 8.2% of the ticks were infected with at least one pathogen. Co-infection with B. burgdorferi s. l. and N. mikurensis or A. phagocytophilum was found in 6.0% of the infected ticks. Our results show that all the known major tick-borne bacterial pathogens in Norway are subject to transport by migratory birds, potentially allowing spread to new areas. Our study showed a surprisingly high number of samples with PCR inhibition (57%). These samples had been extracted using standard methodology (phenol-chloroform extraction). This illustrates the need for inhibition controls to determine true prevalence rates.