Isolation of Coxiella burnetii by a centrifugation shell-vial assay from ticks collected in Cyprus: detection by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses.

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Bacteriology Parasitology Zoonoses and Geographical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.

Ticks are the principal vectors and reservoirs of Coxiella burnetii. The identification of isolates is necessary for understanding the clinical diversity of Q fever in different geographic areas. This is the first report of isolation of C. burnetii from ticks by the shell-vial assay and by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for the detection of this pathogen in ticks. Of 141 ticks collected in Cyprus (Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Hyalloma spp.), 10% were found to be infected with C. burnetii. Three ticks were positive by hemolymph test, and 11 triturated ticks were positive by nested PCR. Three isolates were obtained by the centrifugation shell-vial technique. Analysis by PCR, then restriction fragment length polymorphism showed that the 3 Cyprus isolates had identical restriction profiles to reference strains Nine Mile and Q212. The methods described are useful in studying the epidemiology and ecology of C. burnetii.