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SPOTTED FEVER GROUP RICKETTSIAE IN TICKS FROM THE MASAI MARA REGION OF KENYA

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  • 1 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; United States Army Medical Research Unit, Nairobi, Kenya

We have identified for the first time Rickettsia africae, and the ticks that harbored them, in Kenya. A total of 5,325 ticks were collected from vegetation, livestock, and wild animals during two field trips to southwestern Kenya. Most were immature forms (85.2%) belonging to the genera Amblyomma or Rhipicephalus. The adults also included representatives from the genus Boophilus. Ticks were assessed for rickettsial DNA by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers for the spotted fever group (SFG)–specific rickettsial outer membrane protein A (rompA) gene, and positive amplicons were sequenced. While none of the immature ticks tested positive by PCR, 15.8% of the adult Amblyomma variegatum and less than 1% of the Rhipicephalus spp. were SFG positive. Sequences of amplified products were identified as R. africae. These findings extend the known range of R. africae.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: Kevin R. Macaluso, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, 655 West Baltimore Street, Bressler Research Building, Room 13-009, Baltimore, MD 21201, Telephone: 410-706-7066, Fax: 410-706-0282, E-mail: kmaca001@umaryland.edu
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