The current study investigated the occurrence of ticks and their rickettsiae in the Serra do Mar State Park, which encompasses one of the largest Atlantic rain forest reserves of Brazil. From July 2008 to June 2009, a total of 2,439 ticks (2,196 free living and 243 collected on hosts) was collected, encompassing the following 13 species: Amblyomma aureolatum (Pallas), Amblyomma brasiliense Aragão, Amblyomma dubitatum Neumann, Amblyomma fuscum Neumann, Amblyomma incisum Neumann, Amblyomma longirostre (Koch), Amblyomma naponense (Packard), Amblyomma nodosum Neumann, Amblyomma ovale Koch, Haemaphysalis juxtakochi Cooley, Ixodes aragaoi Fonseca, Ixodes loricatus Neumann, and Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille). Ticks were submitted to polymerase chain reaction assays targeting portions of the rickettsial genes gltA and ompA. Polymerase chain reaction products were DNA sequenced and compared with corresponding sequences available in GenBank. Rickettsia bellii, a rickettsia of unknown pathogenicity, was detected in one A. aureolatum, one A. ovale, and three A. incisum specimens. At least 8.8% (3/34) of the free-living A. ovale ticks, 13.6% (8/59) of the A. ovale ticks collected from dogs, and 1.9% (1/54) of the R. sanguineus (Latreille) ticks were found to be infected by Rickettsia sp strain Atlantic rain forest, a novel strain that has been shown to cause an eschar-associated spotted fever in the state of São Paulo. Our results suggest that A. ovale is the vector of Rickettsia sp strain Atlantic rain forest in the state of São Paulo.
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Vol. 47 • No. 5