Detection of DNA in Yellow Flies, Lone Star Ticks, and a Human Patient with Concurrent Evidence of Infection in Northeast Florida, USA

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Humans; Animals; Amblyomma (genetics); Florida (epidemiology); Lyme Disease (veterinary); Borrelia burgdorferi (genetics); Ticks; DNA; Bartonella (genetics); Ixodes (genetics)


species and sensu lato (Bbsl) are emerging zoonotic pathogens. The vectors and frequency of infections with both pathogen groups in the southern United States is understudied. This study describes an investigation of and Bbsl in yellow flies collected at a residence in northeast Florida, USA, that led to subsequent discoveries of both organisms in lone star ticks () and a human patient. DNA samples from flies, ticks, and human patient blood specimens were tested via polymerase chain reaction assays for or Bbsl species. DNA sequences were compared to reference strains for identification and characterization. An exploratory investigation of arthropod-borne pathogens in yellow flies collected at a residence in northeast Florida revealed the presence of uncharacterized species DNA sequences similar to ones previously detected in two lone star ticks from Virginia. Subsequent testing of several lone star ticks from the area detected similar sequences of in three ticks. Testing of stored blood samples from a resident of the site, who had experienced chronic relapsing and remitting symptoms for over a decade, identified nearly identical DNA sequences in multiple samples collected over a 10-year period. Two lone star ticks and several samples from the same patient and time period also tested positive for DNA, suggesting possible long-term coinfection of the patient with both organisms. This investigation identified highly similar DNA sequences in yellow flies, lone star ticks, and a human patient in northeast Florida. Similarly, DNA was detected in two lone star ticks and multiple specimens from the patient. Positive PCR results from archived patient blood samples documented the presence of both organisms at multiple time points over more than a decade. More studies on human patients with chronic undefined illness and on the presence of and Bbsl in hematophagous arthropods and animal hosts in the southeastern United States are needed.

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Vector borne and zoonotic diseases (Larchmont, N.Y.)





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