The presence of Francisella species in 2134 ticks, 93 lagomorphs and 280 small mammals from the Iberian Peninsula was studied. Overall, 19 ticks and 6 lagomorphs were positive for Francisella tularensis subsp. holarctica, suggesting, as described for other regions, that lagomorphs may have an important role in the maintenance of F. tularensis in nature. Of the 6 positive lagomorphs, 4 were identified as the European rabbit, Oryctogalus cuniculus. Additionally, 353 ticks and 3 small mammals were PCR positive for Francisella-like endosymbionts (FLEs) and one small mammal was also positive for Francisella hispaniensis-like DNA sequences. Among FLE positive specimens, a variety of sequence types were detected: ticks were associated with 5 lpnA sequence types, with only one type identified per tick, in contrast to 2 lpnA sequence types detected in a single wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus). To our knowledge, this is the first report of FLEs in free-living small mammals as well as the first detection of F. hispaniensis-like sequences in a natural setting.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science
- Infectious Diseases
- Francisella hispaniensis
- Francisella tularensis subsp. holarctica
- Francisella-like endosymbionts