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APONOMMA HYDROSAURI, THE REPTILE-ASSOCIATED TICK RESERVOIR OF RICKETTSIA HONEI ON FLINDERS ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

JOHN STENOSAustralian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, The Geelong Hospital, Geelong, Victoria, Australia; Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas

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STEPHEN GRAVESAustralian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, The Geelong Hospital, Geelong, Victoria, Australia; Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas

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VSEVOLOD L. POPOVAustralian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, The Geelong Hospital, Geelong, Victoria, Australia; Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas

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DAVID H. WALKERAustralian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, The Geelong Hospital, Geelong, Victoria, Australia; Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas

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Rickettsia honei is the etiologic agent of Flinders Island (Australia) spotted fever. The tick Aponomma hydrosauri is associated with reptiles and is the arthropod reservoir for this rickettsia on Flinders Island. The rickettsia appears to be maintained in the tick via vertical transmission. Of 46 ticks examined, 29 (63%) were positive for spotted fever group rickettsiae by detection of the citrate synthase gene by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). From the positive tick samples, seven were sequenced and found to be 100% homologous with R. honei. Of 17 reptiles examined, none had evidence of rickettsiae by PCR or culture of blood.

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