Molecular detection of Rickettsia species and host associations of Laelaps mites (Acari: Laelapidae) in Taiwan

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Abstract

Various rickettsiae have recently been detected in Laelaps mites (Acari: Laelapidae), which are common ectoparasites of rodents; however, investigations on this topic remain very scarce, particularly in Asia. In the present study, shrews and rodents were trapped from 2006 to 2010 in eight lowland regions of Taiwan (< 500 m in elevation) to collect associated Laelaps mites, from which Rickettsia—a group of emerging pathogens—were detected and identified by assaying the gltA and ompB genes. A total of 853 Laelaps mites of at least four species were collected from a sample of 1004 small mammals that included one shrew and 10 rodent species. Rattus losea was the most common species (44.9% of total hosts) and hosted the highest percentage of mites (76.6% of total mites). Laelaps nuttalli was the most abundant mite species (51.7% of total mites), followed by Laelaps echidninus (24.2%), Laelaps sedlaceki (23.1%), and Laelaps myonyssognathus (0.2%). Notably, Rickettsia species with the highest similarity to spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsiae were identified from seven of the 72 pools of Laelaps mites. The presence of SFG rickettsiae in hematophagous Laelaps mites, particularly including species that are closely associated with commensal rodents in frequent contact with humans, calls for further investigation on the competence of Laelaps mites in transmitting rickettsiae.

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Kuo, C. C., Lee, P. L., & Wang, H. C. (2020). Molecular detection of Rickettsia species and host associations of Laelaps mites (Acari: Laelapidae) in Taiwan. Experimental and Applied Acarology, 81(4), 547–559. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10493-020-00522-1

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