Rickettsiae and ehrlichiae within a city park: Is the urban dweller at risk?

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22 Scopus citations


Tick-borne diseases, such as spotted fever rickettsioses and ehrlichioses, are potentially severe and life-threatening infections. The incidences of these infections increase during warm weather months as ticks become active. Clinicians often consider outdoor activities in rural areas to be a risk factor for exposure to ticks and the pathogens they carry, but are those who live, work, and play within an urban environment excluded from this risk? In this study, we collected ticks from two urban parks in Little Rock, AR, to assess the presence of rickettsiae and ehrlichiae within an urban setting. A total of 273 ticks were collected during July, 2011. Amblyomma americanum was the predominant tick species, with 255 (93%) of those collected. The remaining 18 (7%) were Dermacentor variabilis. Ticks were separated and pooled into groups for further testing. Forty-two of the 43 (98%) A. americanum pools demonstrated molecular evidence for the presence of rickettsiae. None of the D. variabilis contained rickettsiae. Restriction enzyme fragment length polymorphism analysis and DNA sequencing revealed Rickettsia amblyommii to be the species present. One A. americanum pool from park A demonstrated the presence of Ehrlichia chaffeensis, the pathogen responsible for human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis. These results indicate that tick-borne pathogens are not limited to rural or suburban areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-170
Number of pages3
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014


  • Amblyomma americanum
  • City Park
  • Dermacentor variabilis
  • Ehrlichiae
  • Rickettsiae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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