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MOLECULAR IDENTIFICATION OF A COLLECTION OF SPOTTED FEVER GROUP RICKETTSIAE OBTAINED FROM PATIENTS AND TICKS FROM RUSSIA

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  • 1 Unité des Rickettsies, Faculté de Médecine, Marseille, France; Omsk Research Institute of Natural Foci Infections, Omsk, Russia; The Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Moscow, Russia

Thirty-one rickettsial isolates from ticks or patients in North Asian tick typhus (NATT) foci from the Ural region to the Russian Far East were obtained at the Omsk Research Institute of Natural Foci Infections between 1954 and 2001. Using citrate synthase (gltA) and outermenbrane protein a (ompA) gene sequencing, we identified these isolates as Rickettsia sibirica sensu stricto (25 isolates), R. sibirica strain BJ-90 (2 isolates), R. slovaca (1 isolate), and R. heilongjiangensis (3 isolates). We demonstrate that Ixodes persulcatus ticks should be considered potential vectors of NATT. We also demonstrate the presence of R. slovaca in Ural and R. heilongjiangensis in Siberia and Russian Far East, where they may cause human infections misdiagnosed as cases of NATT. Clinicians should be aware that several spotted fever rickettsioses with different prognoses coexist in Russia in areas where NATT was the only previously recognized rickettsiosis.

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