An acute tick-borne rickettsiosis caused by Rickettsia heilongjiangensis was diagnosed in 13 patients from the Russian Far East in 2002. We amplified and sequenced four portions of three rickettsial genes from the patients' skin biopsy results and blood samples and showed that the amplified rickettsial genes belong to R. heilongjiangensis, which was recently isolated from Dermacentor sylvarum ticks in nearby regions of China. This rickettsia, belonging to subgroup of R. japonica, was previously suggested to be pathogenic for humans on the basis of serologic findings. We tested serum samples with different rickettsial antigens from 11 patients and confirmed increasing titers of immunoglobulin (Ig) G and IgM to spotted fever group rickettsiae, including R. heilongjiangensis. Clinical and epidemiologic data on these patients show that this disease is similar to other tick-borne rickettsioses.
For the first time in the Krasnoyarsk region the population Haemaphysalis concinna ticks were found to be infected with the causative agents of three natural focal tick-borne infections--tick-borne encephalitis, tick-borne rickettsiosis and tularemia. The existence of the combined natural focus of these three infections has been confirmed by epidemiological data. Ticks Dermacentor nuttalli also play a similar role in combined foci of tick-borne encephalitis and tick-borne rickettsiosis in these focal territories.
The studies of the level of Ixodidae ticks infestation and seroepidemiological parameters made it possible to characterize specific features of the epidemic process in foci with different tick species. A working principle for the typing of the natural foci of tick-borne rickettsiosis has been suggested. According to the number of tick species 3 types of foci have been identified: monovector, divector and polyvector foci.
Interrelation of parasitological and epidemiological estimations of potential danger of different territories Primorsky Krai concerning presence of natural foci of tick-borne diseases is discussed. Comparative analysis of long-term dynamics of the tick-borne diseases' sickness rate in comparison with long-term dynamics of the vector ticks' abundance has been carried out.
During our more than 20 years of monitoring, we have used epidemiological, field, and experimental methods for characterization of natural foci of tick-borne rickettsioses in Russia. The main results were obtained through genetic methods (PCR sequence) at the Université de la Mediterranée (Marseille, France). We describe considerable heterogeneity of tick-borne alpha(1)-proteobacteria: 16 microorganisms the of the order Rickettsiales were detected in Russia and Kazakhstan. R. sibirica-caused North Asiatic tick-borne rickettsiosis is the main tick-borne rickettsiosis in Russia, with wide distribution in Siberia and the Russian Far East and high epidemic activity of natural foci of different landscape types. Our results show circulation of different pathogenic rickettsiae in the same endemic territories. In the Far East region, R. sibirica subsp. R. sibirica, R. sibirica subsp. BJ-90, and R. heilongjiangensis were detected; in the Altay and Krasnojarsk regions, R. sibirica subsp. R. sibirica and R. heilongjiangensis; and in the Kurgan district of West Siberia, R. sibirica subsp. R. sibirica and R. slovaca. The roles of more than 15 new genotypes of alpha(1)-proteobacteria in infectious disease in Russia and Kazakhstan are in need of further study.
Sweden is an area potentially endemic for spotted fever rickettsioses. Rickettsia helvetica has been isolated from its tick vector Ixodes ricinus, and in a handful of cases linked to human disease. This study demonstrates for the first time in Sweden the transmission of rickettsial infection after a tick bite and the attack rate in an endemic area. We present three cases of documented rickettsial infection and a prospective serological study of Swedish recruits who were trained in the area where the patients lived and showed seroconversion to spotted fever rickettsiae. All patients showed a four-fold increase in antibody titer to the spotted fever rickettsia, R. helvetica, and immunohistochemical examination revealed rickettsia-like organisms in the walls of skin capillaries and veins. Electron microscopy showed organisms resembling R. helvetica and immunogold labeling with two anti-rickettsial antibodies demonstrated specific labeling of the rickettsial organisms in the skin biopsy specimens. Eight of the thirty-five recruits showed a four-fold increase in IgG titer reflecting a high rate of exposure. The results of this study demonstrate that spotted fever rickettsioses should be taken into consideration in the diagnosis of tick-transmitted infections in Sweden.