Wild vertebrate hosts can serve as reservoirs or amplification hosts for tick-borne pathogens (TBPs). Wild carnivores due to their large size have an increased risk for harboring large numbers of ticks. Moreover, their large home ranges and long lives may increase the risk of exposure to ticks and TBPs. Wild carnivores therefore may be good sentinel species with which to monitor the distribution of TBPs. We aimed to evaluate the presence of rickettsial DNA in wild carnivores and to compare its presence in different types of samples. In total, 95 wild carnivores from nine species, originating from 17 counties of Romania collected during 2014–18, were included in the study. From each animal, DNA was extracted from multiple tissue samples, including blood clot, heart, liver, lungs, spleen, kidney, lymph node, and bone marrow, and screened for the presence of rickettsial pathogen DNA (Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Ehrlichia canis, and Rickettsia spp.). Samples from 10 animals from six species (Canis aureus, Ursus arctos, Canis lupus, Felis sylvestris, Lutra lutra, and Martes foina) were found to be positive for A. phagocytophilum. The most frequently positive sample was the spleen. No animal was positive for Ehrlichia spp. or Rickettsia spp. Wild carnivores may be involved in the ecoepidemiology of A. phagocytophilum by maintaining the infection in synanthropic environments.
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Vol. 57 • No. 4