• Circulation of Species and Their Exposure to Humans through .

      Azagi, Tal; Jaarsma, Ryanne I; Docters van Leeuwen, Arieke; Fonville, Manoj; Maas, Miriam; Franssen, Frits F J; Kik, Marja; Rijks, Jolianne M; Montizaan, Margriet G; Groenevelt, Margit; et al. (2021-03-24)
      Human babesiosis in Europe has been attributed to infection with Babesia divergens and, to a lesser extent, with Babesia venatorum and Babesia microti, which are all transmitted to humans through a bite of Ixodes ricinus. These Babesia species circulate in the Netherlands, but autochthonous human babesiosis cases have not been reported so far. To gain more insight into the natural sources of these Babesia species, their presence in reservoir hosts and in I. ricinus was examined. Moreover, part of the ticks were tested for co-infections with other tick borne pathogens. In a cross-sectional study, qPCR-detection was used to determine the presence of Babesia species in 4611 tissue samples from 27 mammalian species and 13 bird species. Reverse line blotting (RLB) and qPCR detection of Babesia species were used to test 25,849 questing I. ricinus. Fragments of the 18S rDNA and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene from PCR-positive isolates were sequenced for confirmation and species identification and species-specific PCR reactions were performed on samples with suspected mixed infections. Babesia microti was found in two widespread rodent species: Myodes glareolus and Apodemus sylvaticus, whereas B. divergens was detected in the geographically restricted Cervus elaphus and Bison bonasus, and occasionally in free-ranging Ovis aries. B. venatorum was detected in the ubiquitous Capreolus capreolus, and occasionally in free-ranging O. aries. Species-specific PCR revealed co-infections in C. capreolus and C. elaphus, resulting in higher prevalence of B. venatorum and B. divergens than disclosed by qPCR detection, followed by 18S rDNA and COI sequencing. The non-zoonotic Babesia species found were Babesia capreoli, Babesia vulpes, Babesia sp. deer clade, and badger-associated Babesia species. The infection rate of zoonotic Babesia species in questing I. ricinus ticks was higher for Babesia clade I (2.6%) than Babesia clade X (1.9%). Co-infection of B. microti with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato and Neoehrlichia mikurensis in questing nymphs occurred more than expected, which reflects their mutual reservoir hosts, and suggests the possibility of co-transmission of these three pathogens to humans during a tick bite. The ubiquitous spread and abundance of B. microti and B. venatorum in their reservoir hosts and questing ticks imply some level of human exposure through tick bites. The restricted distribution of the wild reservoir hosts for B. divergens and its low infection rate in ticks might contribute to the absence of reported autochthonous cases of human babesiosis in the Netherlands.
    • Control of Lyme borreliosis and other Ixodes ricinus-borne diseases.

      Sprong, Hein; Azagi, Tal; Hoornstra, Dieuwertje; Nijhof, Ard M; Knorr, Sarah; Baarsma, M Ewoud; Hovius, Joppe W (2018-03-06)
      Lyme borreliosis (LB) and other Ixodes ricinus-borne diseases (TBDs) are diseases that emerge from interactions of humans and domestic animals with infected ticks in nature. Nature, environmental and health policies at (inter)national and local levels affect the risk, disease burden and costs of TBDs. Knowledge on ticks, their pathogens and the diseases they cause have been increasing, and resulted in the discovery of a diversity of control options, which often are not highly effective on their own. Control strategies involving concerted actions from human and animal health sectors as well as from nature managers have not been formulated, let alone implemented. Control of TBDs asks for a "health in all policies" approach, both at the (inter)national level, but also at local levels. For example, wildlife protection and creating urban green spaces are important for animal and human well-being, but may increase the risk of TBDs. In contrast, culling or fencing out deer decreases the risk for TBDs under specific conditions, but may have adverse effects on biodiversity or may be societally unacceptable. Therefore, in the end, nature and health workers together must carry out tailor-made control options for the control of TBDs for humans and animals, with minimal effects on the environment. In that regard, multidisciplinary approaches in environmental, but also medical settings are needed. To facilitate this, communication and collaboration between experts from different fields, which may include patient representatives, should be promoted.
    • Counterattacking the tick bite: towards a rational design of anti-tick vaccines targeting pathogen transmission.

      Rego, Ryan O M; Trentelman, Jos J A; Anguita, Juan; Nijhof, Ard M; Sprong, Hein; Klempa, Boris; Hajdusek, Ondrej; Tomás-Cortázar, Julen; Azagi, Tal; Strnad, Martin; et al. (2019-05-14)
    • Evaluation of Disease Causality of Rare -Borne Infections in Europe.

      Azagi, Tal; Hoornstra, Dieuwertje; Kremer, Kristin; Hovius, Joppe W R; Sprong, Hein (2020-02-24)
      In Europe, Ixodes ricinus ticks transmit pathogens such as Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato and tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). In addition, there is evidence for transmission to humans from I. ricinus of Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia divergens, Babesia microti, Babesia venatorum, Borrelia miyamotoi, Neoehrlichia mikurensis, Rickettsia helvetica and Rickettsiamonacensis. However, whether infection with these potential tick-borne pathogens results in human disease has not been fully demonstrated for all of these tick-borne microorganisms. To evaluate the available evidence for a causative relation between infection and disease, the current study analyses European case reports published from 2008 to 2018, supplemented with information derived from epidemiological and experimental studies. The evidence for human disease causality in Europe found in this review appeared to be strongest for A. phagocytophilum and B. divergens. Nonetheless, some knowledge gaps still exist. Importantly, comprehensive evidence for pathogenicity is lacking for the remaining tick-borne microorganisms. Such evidence could be gathered best through prospective studies, for example, studies enrolling patients with a fever after a tick bite, the development of specific new serological tools, isolation of these microorganisms from ticks and patients and propagation in vitro, and through experimental studies.