Detection and Identification of Bartonella Henselae Present in Ixodes Scapularis Ticks Within Plymouth County

Diane Heath, Dr. Jennifer Mendell, Department of Biological Sciences, Bridgewater State University, 131 Summer Street, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, 02324

Bartonellosis is a group of emerging infectious diseases caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Bartonella. These bacteria are mainly transmitted by vectors, including fleas, lice, or sandflies. Although transmission of Bartonella spp. to humans typically occurs through traumatic contact with infected animals or by blood-sucking insect vectors, it has also been reported that this organism can be transmitted via the bite of a tick. One species, Bartonella henselae has been particularly well studied and is the causative agent of Cat scratch disease in humans. As the name suggests, this is transmitted to humans through the scratch or bite of a cat. However, B. henselae is increasingly being identified as a co-infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, which is transmitted through the bite of a tick, specifically, Ixodes scapularis. Tick-borne diseases comprise a group of globally distributed and rapidly spreading illnesses caused by a range of pathogens. Molecular approaches make it possible to screen ticks for pathogens of public health importance and perform detailed epidemiological studies. To better understand the prevalence of B. henselae in Plymouth County, a molecular approach utilizing PCR screening with pathogen-specific primers has been developed. Briefly, Ixodes scapularis ticks were collected and total community DNA extracted. To ensure successful amplification of DNA, PCR amplification using a universal primer set was performed and PCR products were visualized using gel electrophoresis. Those samples showing positive amplification will be utilized in nested PCR reactions using B. henselae specific primers to assess for this emerging pathogen in Plymouth County. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Diane Heath

Institution: Bridgewater State University

Type: Poster

Subject: Biology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 2
Date/Time: Mon 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 2635