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Larvae of chigger mites Neotrombicula spp. (Acari: Trombiculidae) exhibited Borrelia but no Anaplasma infections: a field study including birds from the Czech Carpathians as hosts of chiggers

Ivan Literak, Alexandr A. Stekolnikov, Oldrich Sychra, Lenka Dubska and Veronika Taragelova

Experimental and Applied Acarology, 44 (4): 307-314 (2008).


Chigger mites were collected from 1,080 wild birds of 37 species at Certak (Czech Republic), in the western Carpathian Mountains, from 29 July to 24 September 2005. The prevalence of infestation with chigger larvae was 7%. A total of 325 chigger specimens from 10 bird species was identified and three chigger species were found: Neotrombicula autumnalis, N. carpathica, and N. inopinata, the latter two species being reported on new hosts. Neotrombicula carpathica is reported in the Czech Republic for the first time. A total of 509 chigger larvae found on 79 host specimens were examined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. DNA (fragments of the rrf (5S)—rrl (23S) intergenic spacer), and Anaplasma phagocytophilum DNA (epank1 gene). A fragment of specific Borrelia DNA was amplified through PCR in one sample, and the PCR product was further analyzed by reverse line blotting assay, whereby both genospecies of B. garinii and B. valaisiana were proved. This sample pooled five chigger larvae collected from one Sylvia atricapilla on 11 August 2005. No A. phagocytophilum DNA was amplified. We conclude that larvae of the genus Neotrombicula can be infected with Borrelia genospecies originated from their present or former hosts.

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