Division of Vector-Borne Diseases-Bacteria

1. DVBD The Ecology, Focal Maintenance, and Transmission of Plague 

K. L. Gage  

The etiologic agent of plague (Yersinia pestis) occurs in rodent and flea populations throughout much of the world, including the western United States. Our activity conducts field and laboratory investigations to determine how human plague risk, spread of the disease, and maintenance of plague foci are influenced by rodent hosts, flea vectors, Y. pestis strains, habitat factors and climatic variables. Additional opportunities are available to investigate flea vector competency, plague epidemiology and ecology, and molecular characterizations of Y. pestis in naturally occurring host and vector populations. 


Gage KL and Kosoy MY. The natural history of Plague: Perspectives from more than a century of research. Ann Rev Entomology. 50:505-528. 2005.

Gage KL, Burkot TR, Eisen RJ, Hayes EB. Climate and vector-borne diseases. Am J Preventive Medicine 35:436-450, 2008.

Eisen RJ and Gage KL. Adaptive strategies of Yersinia pestis to persist during inter-epizootic and epizootic periods. Vet Res . Mar-Apr, 40(2):[1.Epub 2008 Sep 23], 2009.

Woods ME, Montenieri JA, Eisen RJ, Zeidner NS, Borchert JN, Laudesoit A, Babi N, Atiku LA, Enscore RE, Gage KL. Identification of flea blood meals using multiplexed real-time polymerase chain reaction targeting mitochondrial gene fragments. Am J Trop Med Hyg 80:998-1003, 2009.

Eisen, RJ, Eisen L, and Gage KL. Studies of vector competency and efficiency of North American fleas for Yersinia pestis: State of the field and future research needs. J Med Entomol 46:737-744, 2009.


Robinson JB, Telepnev MV, Zudina IV, Bouyer D, Montenieri JA, Bearden SW, Gage KL, Agar SL, Foltz SM, Chauhan S, Chopra AK, Motin VL. Evaluation of a Yersinia pestis mutant impaired in a thermoregulated Type VI Secretion System in flea, macrophage and virulence models. Microbial Pathogenesis. 47:243-251, 2009.

Ben Ari T, Gershunov A, Rouyer T, Cazelles B, Gage KL, Stenseth NC. Interannual variability of human plague occurrence in the western U.S. explained by tropical and North Pacific Ocean climate variability. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 83:624-632, 2010.

Vetter SM, Eisen RJ, Schotthoefer AM, Montenieri JA, Holmes JL, Bobrov AG, Bearden SW, Perry RD, Gage KL. Biofilm formation is not required for early-phase transmission of Yersinia pestis. Microbiology 156:2216-2225, 2010.

Brown HE, Ettestad P, Reynolds PJ, Brown T, Hatton E, Holmes J, Glass GE, Gage KL, Eisen RJ. Climatic predictors of the intra- and inter-annual distributions of plague cases in New Mexico based on 29 years of animal-based surveillance data. Am J Trop Med Hyg 82:95-102, 2010.

Jones RT, Bernhardt SA, Martin AP, Gage KL. Interactions among symbionts of Oropsylla spp. (Siphonaptera: Ceratophyllidae). J Med Entomol 49:492-496, 2012.

Eisen RJ, Borchert JN, Mpanga JT, Atiku LA, MacMillan K, Boegler KA, Montenieri JA, Monaghan A, Gage KL. Flea diversity as an element for persistence of plague bacteria in an East African plague focus. PLoS ONE 7(4):e35598.doi:10.1371/journal.poine.0035598, 2012.


Boegler KA, Graham CB, Montenieri JA, MacMillan K, Holmes JL, Petersen JM, Gage KL, Eisen RJ. Evaluation of the infectiousness to mice of soil contaminated with Yersinia pestis-infected blood. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. 12, XX, 2012 (DOI: 10.1089/vbz.2012.1031).

Jones RT, Vetter SM, Montenieir J, Holmes J, Bernhardt SA, Gage KL. Yersinia pestis infection and laboratory conditions alter flea-associated bacterial communities. ISME J, Aug 16, 2012. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2012.95.

Gage KL. Factors affecting the spread and maintenance of plague. Adv Exp Med Biol. 954:79-94, 2012.


2DVBD Discovery of New Bartonella Species and Factors Associated with the Emergence of Vector-borne Bartonellosis in Humans and Animals.

M. Y. Kosoy


Bacteria of the genus Bartonella cause a number of different infections, most of which are thought to be zoonoses. While some species of Bartonella were recognized as human pathogens early in the twentieth century, recent evidence suggests that other species of Bartonella may also be pathogenic for humans. Our laboratory is conducting studies of Bartonella microbiology, vector biology, epidemiology, and disease ecology. Research opportunities are available to develop new approaches for detection of the bacteria in clinical and field samples; to determine whether recently recognized species of Bartonella might be the cause of otherwise unexplained human illness; to identify the distribution and regional diversity of animal reservoirs of Bartonella infections; and to determine whether diverse Bartonella can be transmitted by fleas or ticks.


Kosoy, M., Murray, M., Gilmore, R., Bai, Y., and Gage, K. 2003. Bartonella strains obtained from ground squirrels are identical to Bartonella washoensis isolated from a human patient. J. Clin. Microbiol. 41: 645-650.

Kosoy, M., Morway, C., Sheff, K., Bai, Y., Colborn, J., Chalcraft, L., Peruski, L., Dowell, S., Peruski, L., Maloney, S., Baggett, H., Sidhirat, A., Maruyama, S., Kabeya, H., Chomel, B., Kasten, R., Popov, V., Robinson, J., Kruglov, A., and Petersen, L. 2008. Bartonella tamiae sp. nov., a newly recognized pathogen isolated from three human patients from Thailand. J. Clin. Microbiol. 46: 772-775.

Kosoy, M., Bai, Y., Sheff, K., Morway, C., Baggett, H., Maloney, S., Boonmar, S., Bhengsri, S., Dowell, D., Sitdhirasdr, A., Lerdthusnee, L., Richardson, J., and Peruski, L. 2010. Identification of Bartonella infections in febrile human patients from Thailand and their potential animal reservoirs. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 82: 1140-1145.

Bhengsri, S., Baggett, H., Peruski, L., Morway, C., Bai, Y., Fisk, T., Sitdhirasdr, A., Maloney, S., Dowell, D., and Kosoy, M. 2010. Bartonella spp. infections, Thailand. Emerg. Inf. Dis. 16: 743-745.

Kosoy, M., Bai, Y., Lynch, T., Kuzmin, I., Niezgoda, M., Franka, R., Agwanda, B., Breiman, R., and Rupprecht, R. 2010. New Bartonella species in bats from Kenya. Emerg. Inf. Dis. 16: 1875-1881.

Lynch, T., Iverson, J., and Kosoy, M. 2011. Combining culture techniques for Bartonella: The best of both worlds. J. Clin. Microbiol. 49: 1363-1368.

Kosoy, M., Hayman, D., and Chan, K.-S. 2012. Bartonella bacteria in nature: Where does population variability end and a species start? Infection Genetics. Evol. 12: 894-904.


3. DVBD Molecular Mechanisms of Pathogenesis of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease agent

R. D. Gilmore, Jr.


My laboratory focuses on the pathogenesis of the Lyme disease agent, Borrelia burgdorferi. We utilize molecular microbiological and immunological methodologies to study bacterial mechanisms of infection. The objective is to identify genes that are differentially expressed during host interactions, including the tick vector, and to study their role in pathogenesis. Our lab is engaged in projects identifying Borrelia genes involved in pathogen transmission and survival at the tick/host interface. Our recent successes in identifying such B. burgdorferi genes promises fertile ground for research in understanding the role of these gene products in vector-host interactions, and is the basis for improving diagnostic assays, and developing new therapeutic strategies for Lyme disease. More information about our lab can be found at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Robert-D-Bob-Gilmore-Laboratory-CDC-Fort-Collins/152161368128641?ref=sgm



Gilmore, R.D. Jr., Howison, R.R., Dietrich, G., Patton, T.G., Clifton, D.R., Carroll, J.A. The bba64 gene of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease agent, is critical for mammalian infection via tick bite transmission. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2010 107:7515-7520.

Gilmore, R.D. Jr., Howison, R.R., Schmit, V.L., and Carroll, J.A. Borrelia burgdorferi expression of the bba64, bba65, bba66, and bba73 genes in tissues during persistent infection in mice. Microbial Pathogenesis 2008 45:355-360.

Livengood, J.A., Schmit, V.L., and Gilmore, R.D. Jr. Global transcriptome analysis of Borrelia burgdorferi during association with human neuroglial cells. Infection and Immunity 2008 76:298-307.

Gilmore, R.D. Jr., Howison, R.R., Schmit, V.L., Nowalk, A.J., Clifton, D.R., Nolder, C., Hughes, J.L., and Carroll, J.A. Temporal expression analysis of the Borrelia burgdorferi paralogous gene family 54 genes BBA64, BBA65, and BBA66 during persistent infection in mice. Infect Immun. 2007 Jun; 75 (6):2753-64.

Livengood, J.A. and Gilmore, R.D. Jr. Invasion of human neuronal and glial cells by an infectious strain of Borrelia burgdorferi. Microbes and Infection 2006 8:2832-2840.


4. DVBD Diagnosis and Molecular Epidemiology of Francisella tularensis and Yersinia pestis

J.M. Petersen


Francisella tularensis, the etiologic agent of tularemia and Yersinia pestis, the etiologic agent of plague are capable of causing severe morbidity and mortality among humans and are classified as biothreat agents. Both are zoonotic pathogens which are maintained in nature through complex cycles between arthropod vectors and animal reservoirs, with man being an incidental victim. Humans become infected by a variety of mechanisms including direct contact with infected animal tissues, bites by infected vectors, and from inhalation of bacterial aerosols. My group focuses on diagnostic test development and molecular epidemiology analyses for both pathogens in order to i) to investigate outbreaks, ii) to assess human disease risk and morbidity, iii) to understand local transmission cycles and sources of human exposure and iv) to provide the research tools necessary to answer questions pertaining to human, animal, vector and environmental disease maintenance. My laboratory has recently identified differences in virulence among F. tularensis subsp. tularensis strains and another area of research focuses on understanding the genetic basis for this virulence difference.



Reese, S. M., Dietrich, G., Dolan, M. C., Sheldon, S. W., Piesman, J., Petersen, J. M., Eisen, R. J. 2010. Transmission Dynamics of Francisella tularensis subspecies and clades by nymphal Dermacentor variabilis (Acari: Ixodidae) Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 83(3):645–652.

Petersen J. M., Molins C. R. 2010. Subpopulations of Francisella tularensis ssp. tularensis and holarctica: identification and associated epidemiology. Future Microbiol. 5(4):649-61.

Molins C. R., Delorey M. J., Yockey B. M., Young J. W., Sheldon S. W., Reese S. M., Schriefer M. E., Petersen J. M. 2010. Virulence differences among Francisella tularensis subsp. tularensis clades in mice. PLoS One. 5(4):e10205.Kugeler, K. J., Mead, P. S., Janusz, A. M., Staples, J. E., Kubota, K. A., Chalcraft, L. J. and J. M. Petersen. Molecular epidemiology of Francisella tularensis in the United States. 2009. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 48(7):863-70.

Petersen, J. M., Carlson, J., Yockey, B., Pillai, S., Kuske, C., Garbalena, G., Pottumarthy, S. and L. Chalcraft. 2009. Direct isolation of Francisella spp. from environmental samples. Letters in Applied Microbiology. 48:663-7.

Wong, D., Wild, M. A., Walburger, M. A., Higgins, C. L., Callahan, M.,. Czarnecki, L. A., Lawaczek, E.W., Levy, C. E., Sunenshine, R., Adem, P., Zaki, S. R., Petersen, J. M., Schriefer, M. E., Eisen, R. J., Gage, K. L., Griffith, K. S., Weber, I. B., Spraker, T. R., and P. S. Mead. Primary pneumonic plague contracted from a mountain lion carcass. Clin Infect Dis. 2009 49(3):e33-8.

Molins-Schneekloth, C. R., Belisle, J. T. and J. M. Petersen. 2008. Genomic markers for differentiation of Francisella tularensis subsp. tularensis A.I and A.II strains. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 74:336-41.

Eisen. R. J., Petersen, J. M., Higgins, C. L., Wong, D., Levy, C. E., Mead, P. S., Schriefer, M. E., Griffith, K. S., Gage, K. L., Beard, C. B. 2008. Persistence of Yersinia pestis in soil under natural conditions. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 14:941-3.

Petersen, J. M., Carlson, J. K., Dietrich, G., Eisen, R. J., Coombs, J., Janusz, A. M., Summers, J., Beard, C. B. and P. S. Mead. 2008. Identification of multiple F. tularensis subspecies and clades during a focal outbreak of tularemia, Utah 2007. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 14:1928-30.

Staples J. E., Kubota K. A., Chalcraft L. G., Mead P. S, Petersen J. M. 2006. Epidemiologic and molecular analysis of human tularemia, United States, 1964-2004. Emerg Infect Dis. 12(7):1113-8.


5. DVBD Pathogenic Rickettsial Agents and Their Arthropod Vectors and Vertebrate Hosts

G. A. Dasch


Rickettsial agents (Rickettsia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Neorickettsia, Wolbachia, Orientia) cause an exceedingly diverse spectrum of vector-transmitted diseases of humans and animals. Common vectors like ticks, fleas, lice, sandflies, and mites as well as non-haematophagous arthropods can serve as vectors and reservoirs for these bacteria. The biology, immunology, reservoir potential of mammalian and non-mammalian vertebrate hosts and their vectors, and the mechanisms of the vector transmission of many rickettsial agents are poorly understood. Depending on the research interests of each applicant, project proposal topics with any of these challenging intracellular bacteria may include (1) applications of whole genome sequences and proteomes; (2) dissection of vector-bacterial community-host interactions and vector population genetics (disease ecology); (3) application of novel proteomic and molecular diagnostic methods to rickettsial diseases; (4) cell biology, immunology and pathogenicity of rickettsial agents in vertebrate and invertebrate cells; (5) development of medical countermeasures (vaccines, new therapies) for preventing rickettsial diseases.



Mixson, T. R., S. L. Lydy, G. A. Dasch, and L. A. Real. 2006. Inferring the population structure and demographic history of the tick, Amblyomma americanum Linnaeus. J. Vector Ecology 31(1):181-192.

Chen, H. W., Z. Zhang, E. Huber, C. C. Chao, H. Wang, G. A. Dasch, and W. M. Ching. 2009. Identification of cross-reactive epitopes on the conserved 47 kDa antigen of Orientia tsutsugamushi and human serine protease. Infect Immun. 77(6):2311-2319.

Chao, C.-C., D. L. Garland, G. A. Dasch, and W.-M. Ching. 2009. Comparative proteomic analysis of antibiotic-sensitive and insensitive isolates of Orientia tsutsugamushi. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1166:27-37.

Eremeeva, M. E., and G. A. Dasch. 2009. Closing the gaps between genotype and phenotype in Rickettsia rickettsii. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1166:12-26.

Bermudez, S. E., M. E. Eremeeva, S. E. Karpathy, F. Samudio, M. L. Zambrano, Y. Zaldivar, J. A. Motta, and G. A. Dasch. 2009. Detection and identification of rickettsial agents in ticks from domestic mammals in Eastern Panama. J. Med. Entomol. 46(4): 856-861.

Robinson, J. B., M. E. Eremeeva, P. E. Olson, S. A. Thornton, M. J. Medina, J. W. Sumner, and G. A. Dasch 2009. New approaches to detection and identification of Rickettsia africae and Ehrlichia ruminantium in Amblyomma variegatum Fabricius (Acari: Ixodidae) ticks from the Caribbean. J. Med. Entomol. 46(4):942-51.

Shapiro, M. R., C. L. Fritz, K. Tait, C. D. Paddock, W. L. Nicholson, K. F. Abramowicz, S. E. Karpathy, G. A. Dasch, J. W. Sumner, P. V. Adem, J. J. Scott, K. A. Padgett, S. R. Zaki, and M. E. Eremeeva. 2009. Rickettsia 364D: A newly recognized cause of eschar-associated illness in California. Clin. Inf. Dis. 50(4):541-548

Kirkness, E. F. et al. 2010. Genome sequences of the human body louse and its primary endosymbiont provide insights into the permanent parasitic lifestyle. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107(27):12168-12173.

Beeler E., K.F. Abramowicz, M.L. Zambrano, M.M. Sturgeon, N. Khalaf, R. Hu, G.A. Dasch, and M.E. Eremeeva. 2011. A focus of dogs and Rickettsia massiliae-infected Rhipicephalus sanguineus in California. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 84(2):244-249.

Silva, N., M.E. Eremeeva, T. Rozental, G. S. Ribeiro, C.D. Paddock, E. A. G. Ramos, A. R. Favacho, M.G. Reis, G.A. Dasch, E.R. de Lemos, and A. I. Ko. 2011. Eschar-associated spotted fever rickettsiosis, Bahia, Brazil. EID 17(2):275-278.

Eremeeva, M.E., M.L. Zambrano, L. Anaya, L. Beati, S. Karpathy, M.M. Santos-Silva, B. Salceda, D. Macbeth, H. Olguin, G.A. Dasch, and C. Alpuche Aranda. Rickettsia rickettsii in Rhipicephalus ticks, Mexicali, Mexico. 2011. J. Med. Entomol. 48(2):418-421.

Eremeeva, M. E., and G. A. Dasch. 2011. The genus Rickettsia: microbiology, diversity and taxonomy. Revue Tunisienne d’Infectiologie Suppl. 5(2):7-11.

Troyo, A., D. Alvarez, L. Taylor, G. Abdalla, D. Calderón-Arguedas, M. L. Zambrano, G. A. Dasch K. Lindblade, L. Hun, M. E. Eremeeva, and A. Estévez. 2012. Rickettsia felis in Ctenocephalides felis from Guatemala and Costa Rica. Am J Trop Med Hyg.86(6):1054-1056.

Williams-Newkirk, A. J., L. A. Rowe, T. R. Mixson-Hayden, and G. A. Dasch. 2012. Presence, genetic variability, and potential significance of "Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii" in the lone star tick Amblyomma americanum. Exp Appl Acarol. 58(3):291-300.

Eremeeva, M. E., and G. A. Dasch. 2012. Tick-borne agents: can you predict whether a new rickettsia is a human pathogen? Proc Papers Mosquito Control Assoc. California 80:42-49.

Eremeeva, M. E, S. E. Karpathy, L. Krueger, E. K. Hayes, A. M. Williams, Y. Zaldivar, S. Bennett, R. Cummings, A. Tilzer, R. K. Velten, N. Kerr, G. A. Dasch, and R. Hu. 2012. Two pathogens and one disease: detection and identification of flea-borne rickettsiae in areas endemic for murine typhus in California. J. Med. Entom. In press


6. DVBD Q Fever: Virulence of C. burnetii strains Derived from Humans, Livestock, and Marine Mammals

G. J. Kersh, R. F. Massung


Coxiella burnetii is an obligate intracellular bacterium, a category B bioterrorism agent, and the etiologic agent of Q fever. Q fever is transmitted by inhalation and results in an acute febrile illness most commonly characterized as atypical pneumonia. Chronic infections can be life-threatening and often manifest as culture negative endocarditis. C. burnetii grows to high density in the placenta of infected mammals, and many human infections are the result of exposure to contaminated aerosols that are generated during parturition of infected livestock. Recently, we have shown that C. burnetii can grow to high density not only in the placentas of livestock species, but also in placentas of many species of marine mammals. We have also found high seroprevalence rates in marine mammals, suggesting that C. burnetii infection of marine mammals is common. The strains of C. burnetii infecting marine mammals are distinct from livestock strains based on sequencing of a limited number of genes. It is not known if these unique strains can cause disease in humans or marine mammals. However, preliminary results suggest that these strains have low virulence. Research opportunities are available to (i) Determine the Q fever seroprevalence in people living on the Pribilof Islands. These islands are home to Northern Fur Seal rookeries and exposure to marine mammal C. burnetii strains is likely; (ii) Obtain and analyse the complete genome sequence of C. burnetii strains derived from marine mammals, livestock, and human Q fever patients; (iii) Evaluate infection of mice with these C. burnetii strains; (iv) Develop a model for C. burnetii virulence based on the data from whole genome sequencing and mouse infections.




Kersh, G.J., Lambourn, D.M., Self, J.S., Akmajian, A.M., Stanton, J.B., Baszler, T.V., Raverty, S.A., and Massung, R.F. (2010). Coxiella burnetii infection of a Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus) found in Washington State. J. Clin. Microbiol. 48(9), 3428-3431.

Duncan, C., Kersh, G.J., Spraker, T., Patyk, K.A., Fitzpatrick, K.A., Massung, R.F., Gelatt, T. (2012) Coxiella burnetii in Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus) placentas from St. Paul Island, Alaska. J. Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. 12(3):192-5.

Kersh, G.J., Lambourn, D.M., Raverty, S.A., Fitzpatrick, K.A., Self, J.S., Akmajian, A.M., Jeffries, S.J., Huggins, J., Drew, C.P., Zaki, S.R., and Massung, R.F. (2012) Coxiella burnetii infection of Marine Mammals in the Pacific Northwest, 1997-2010. J. Wildlife Diseases. 48(1):201-206.

Duncan, C., Savage. K., Williams. M., Dickerson, B., Kondas, A.V., Fitzpatrick, K.A., Guerrero, J.L., Spraker, T., Kersh. G.J.(2012) Multiple strains of Coxiella burnetii are present in the environment of St. Paul Island, Alaska. Transbound Emerg Dis.


7. DVBD Development of serologic and molecular assays for diagnosis of rickettsial diseases in resource-limited laboratories

 W.L. Nicholson


Highly sensitive and specific methods of detection of rickettsial species are not readily available in many parts of the world, particularly those locations with limited resources for laboratory support (including laboratories in developing countries, state health laboratories with limited funding, and in small educational institutions). Laboratory confirmation of rickettsial diseases can improve patient care, accelerate outbreak response, and strengthen public health surveillance. The assays would also be useful for ecological and entomological studies in the local environment. Proposals are encouraged for projects designed to develop and evaluate serologic and molecular rapid diagnostic assays that would be simple, useful, and affordable. Opportunities exist for evaluation of prototype assays with domestic or international laboratory partners. Potential projects could pursue avenues such as development of thermally stable reference reagents, development and evaluation of isothermal amplification methods, or investigations of point-of-care rapid immunodiagnostic devices. Research projects should be focused on domestic or international pathogens of the genera Rickettsia, Orientia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Coxiella, or Bartonella.



Nicholson, W. L., K. E. Allen, J. H. McQuiston, E. B. Breitschwerdt, and S. E. Little. 2010. The increasing recognition of rickettsial pathogens in dogs and people. Trends in Parasitol. 26: 205-212. [Online 6 Mar, 2010 as doi:10.1016/j.pt.2010.01.007]

Olsen, S. J., S. Thamthitiwat, S. Chantra, M. Chittaganpitch, A. M. Fry, J. M. Simmerman, H. C. Baggett, T. C. T. Peret, D. Erdman, R. Benson, D. Talkington, L. Thacker, M. L. Tondella, J. Winchell, B. Fields, W. L. Nicholson, S. Maloney, L. F. Peruski, K. Ungchusak, P. Sawanpanyalert, and S. F. Dowell. 2010. Incidence of respiratory pathogens in persons hospitalized with pneumonia in Sa Kaeo and Nakhon Phanom Provinces, Thailand. Epidem. Infect. [Accepted Feb. 2010].

Cragun, W. C., B. L. Bartlett, M. W. Ellis, A. Z. Hoover, S. K. Tyring, N. Mendoza, T. J. Vento, W. L. Nicholson, M. E. Eremeeva, J. P. Olano, R. P. Rapini, and C. D. Paddock. 2010. The expanding spectrum of eschar-associated rickettioses in the United States. Arch. Dermatol. 146: 641-648.

Anderson, A. D., D. Kruszon-Moran, A. D. Loftis, G. McQuillan, W. L. Nicholson, R. A. Priestley, A. J. Candee, N. E. Patterson, and R. F. Massung. 2009. Seroprevalence of Q Fever in the United States, 2003 – 2004. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 81: 691-694.

Nicholson, W. L., J. McQuiston, T. J. Vannieuwenhoven, and E. W. Morgan. 2003. Rapid deployment and operation of a Q fever field laboratory in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 990: 320-326.

Parida M., S. Sannarangaiah, P.K. Dash, P.V.L. Rao, and K. Morita. 2008. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP): a new generation of innovative gene amplification technique; perspectives in clinical diagnosis of infectious diseases. Rev. Med. Virol. 18: 407-421.


8. DVBD Transmission and dynamics of Bartonella Infection in Fruit bats

M. Kosoy, Y.Bai


The overall objective of this research project is to understand transmission cycle and dynamic of Bartonella infection in bats. The specific aims of this study are: 1) to determine dynamics of Bartonella infection in individual Eidolon helvum fruit bats; 2) to determine if Bartonella can be transmitted between bats by natural ectoparasites, specifically by bat flies (Diptera: Nycteribiidae); 3) to determine the strains of Bartonella that are amplified by the bats and by flies; and 4) to elucidate the limits to spillover in a multi-host, multi-vector system using Bartonella in fruit bats and bat flies as the model. Our previous work demonstrated evidence of infection with potentially zoonotic Bartonella bacteria in fruit bats in Kenya and Ghana. An even higher prevalence of infection was identified by culture and PCR in their natural ectoparasites (Diptera: Nycteribiidae). Fruit bats E. helvum are widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa and is an important food source in Africa. This species offers an important opportunity for investigating the infection dynamics of Bartonella within its natural host. Our collaborators at the Cambridge Infectious Diseases Consortium (Drs. James Wood and David Hayman) have established the study of captive E. helvum colony in Accra zoo in Ghana. This collaboration provides us with a unique opportunityto study the role of Nycteribiid flies as potential vectors of Bartonella.


9. DVBD Vector Competence of North American Ticks for Spotted Fever Group Pathogenic Rickettsiae.

 M. L. Levin


The ecology and the efficiency of vector transmission of tick-borne rickettsial agents are only scantily described. Rickettsia rickettsii – the etiologic agent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is widely spread across Americas. In the United States, ticks of the genus Dermacentor are traditionally believed to be the primary vectors of R. rickettsii. However, the brown dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus has recently been implicated in transmission of this pathogen both in the US and Mexico. Relations between the brown dog tick and Rickettsia are yet to be described and assessed. In addition, ticks of the genus Amblyomma are known vectors of R. rickettsii in the Central and South America, but the vector competence of North American Amblyomma species has not been studied. A number of tick-borne rickettsial closely related to R. rickettsii agents circulate in North American Amblyomma species, including R. parkeri. The efficiency of transmission of those agents in tick vectors and their potential role in limiting the spread of R. rickettsii have not been elucidated either. The RZB Medical Entomology Laboratory develops and maintains colonies of tick vectors for in vivo studies in biology and interactions between ticks and tick-borne rickettsial pathogens. Research opportunities are available in the following areas: (i) assessment of vector competence of North American Amblyomma spp. for R. rickettsii; (ii) characterization of relationship between the brown dog tick Rh. sanguineus and R. rickettsii; (iii) characterization of vector competence of North American Amblyomma spp. for R. parkeri; (iv) assessment of interaction between rickettsial pathogens in tick vectors.


Loftis, A. D., Levin, M. L. & Spurlock, J. P. (2008) Two USA Ehrlichia spp. cause febrile illness in goats. Veterinary Microbiology, 130, 398-402.

Zeidner, N. S., Massung, R. F., Dolan, M. C., Dadey, E., Gabitzsch, E., Dietrich, G., et al. (2008) A sustained-release formulation of doxycycline hyclate (Atridox) prevents simultaneous infection of Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Borrelia burgdorferi transmitted by tick bite. Journal of Medical Microbiology, 57, 463–468.

Eremeeva, M. E., Karpathy, S. E., Levin, M. L., Caballero, C. M., Bermudez, S., Dasch, G. A., et al. (2009) Spotted fever rickettsiae, Ehrlichia and Anaplasma, in ticks from peridomestic environments in Panama. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 15, 12-14.

 Levin, M. L., Killmaster, L. F., Zemtsova, G., Grant, D., Mumcuoglu, K. Y., Eremeeva, M. E., et al. (2009) Incongruent effects of two isolates of Rickettsia conorii on the survival of Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks. Experimental & Applied Acarology, 48, 347-359.

Levin, M. L. (2010) Ticks. In The Merck Veterinary Manual, 10th Edition (ed. by C. M. Kahn & S. Line), pp. 845-858. Merck Publishing and Merial, Whitehouse Station, NJ.

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 Levin, M. L., Killmaster, L. F. & Zemtsova, G. E. (2011) Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) as reservoir hosts for Rickettsia conorii. Vector Borne & Zoonotic Diseases, 11, in print.

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