Estimated seroprevalence of Anaplasma spp. and spotted fever group Rickettsia exposure among herders and livestock in Mongolia

Michael E. von Fricken, Sukhbaatar Lkhagvatseren, Bazartseren Boldbaatar, Pagbajab Nymadawa, Thomas A. Weppelmann, Bekh Ochir Baigalmaa, Benjamin D. Anderson, Megan E. Reller, Paul M. Lantos, Gregory C. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background To better understand the epidemiology of tick-borne disease in Mongolia, a comprehensive seroprevalence study was conducted investigating exposure to Anaplasma spp. and spotted fever group (SFG) Rickettsia spp. in nomadic herders and their livestock across three provinces from 2014 to 2015. Methods Blood was collected from 397 herders and 2370 livestock, including sheep, goats, cattle, horses and camels. Antibodies against Anaplasma spp. and SFG Rickettsia were determined by indirect immunofluorescence using commercially available slides coated with Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Rickettsia rickettsii antigens. Logistic regression was used to determine if the odds of previous exposure differed by gender, location, and species, with or without adjustment for age. To examine the association between seroprevalence and environmental variables we used ArcGIS to circumscribe the five major clusters where human and animal data were collected. Results Anaplasma spp. exposure was detected in 37.3% (136/365) of humans and 47.3% (1120/2370) of livestock; SFG Rickettsia exposure was detected in 19.5% (73/374) humans and 20.4% (478/2342) livestock. Compared to the southern province (aimag) of Dornogovi, located in the Gobi Desert, humans were significantly more likely to be exposed to Anaplasma spp. and SFG Rickettsia in the northern provinces of Tov (OR = 7.3, 95% CI: 3.5, 15.1; OR = 3.3, 95% CI: 1.7, 7.5), and Selenge (OR = 6.9, 95% CI: 3.4, 14.0; OR = 2.2, 95% CI: 1.1, 4.8). Conclusion The high seroprevalence of Anaplasma spp. and SFG Rickettsia in humans and livestock suggests that exposure to tick-borne pathogens may be common in herders and livestock in Mongolia, particularly in the more northern regions of the country. Until more is known about these pathogens in Mongolia, physicians and veterinarians in the countryside should consider testing for Anaplasma and SFG Rickettsia infections and treating clinically compatible cases, while public health authorities should expand surveillance efforts for these emerging infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-185
Number of pages7
JournalActa Tropica
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaplasma
  • Mongolia
  • Rickettsia
  • Seroprevalence
  • Tick-borne disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology


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