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Molecular Characterization of Rickettsia rickettsii Isolated from Human Clinical Samples and from the Rabbit Tick Haemaphysalis leporispalustris Collected at Different Geographic Zones in Costa Rica

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  • 1 Investigation Center for Tropical Diseases (CIET), Faculty of Microbiology, University of Costa Rica, San Pedro, San José, Costa Rica
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Five strains of spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsiae previously isolated from human clinical cases and from the tick Haemaphysalis leporispalustris were used for molecular characterization in this study to establish their genetic relationship compared with the prototype Rickettsia rickettsii strain Sheila Smith. Samples were tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting the rickettsial genes gtlA, ompA, and ompB. PCR products of the latter two genes were DNA sequenced and compared with available sequences in GenBank. The ompA partial sequences of the five Costa Rican isolates showed 100% identity to several R. rickettsii sequences available in GenBank, including the sequence of the virulent reference strain Sheila Smith, whereas the ompB partial sequences of the five Costa Rican isolates showed 99.8–100% identity to R. rickettsii sequences from GenBank. This study showed the first molecular detection of R. rickettsii isolates from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever patients and from the rabbit tick H. leporispalustris in different geographical zones in Costa Rica.

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