Prevalence of Coxiella burnetii and Rickettsia spp. in ticks and rodents in southern Germany

Silvia Pluta, Kathrin Hartelt, Rainer Oehme, Ute Mackenstedt, Peter Kimmig

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever, and Rickettsia spp. are bacterial pathogens that can be transmitted by ticks of the genus Dermacentor (i.e., Dermacentor marginatus and D. reticulatus). In Germany, the occurrence of these ticks is currently limited to few areas. However, due to increasing temperatures, these vectors will likely extend their distribution in the future, and C. burnetii and Rickettsia spp. might spread with them. To assess the prospective risk of human infections by these agents, it is important to know their current distribution. We collected 666 adult Dermacentor spp. and 119 rodents, mainly Microtus arvalis, in 3 Q fever endemic areas in southern Germany. Ticks and rodent organ pools were screened by PCR for C. burnetii and Rickettsia spp. No evidence of C. burnetii infections could be found in ticks or rodents, suggesting that these animals do not play an essential role in the epidemiology of Q fever in Germany. Rickettsia raoultii and R. slovaca could be detected in 30.3% and 0.75% of all examined ticks, respectively. In contrast, no rickettsia infections could be found in any rodent samples. Both rickettsia species can cause tick-borne lymphadenopathy (TIBOLA), a usually mild human disease. Because of the possible transmission of these rickettsiae to humans, TIBOLA should be considered in the differential diagnosis of tick-borne diseases. Our data show that a spread of these rickettsiae is possible in Germany and that more studies on the distribution of these agents are necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-147
Number of pages3
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Coxiella burnetii
  • Dermacentor
  • Epidemiology
  • Germany
  • Rickettsia
  • Tick-borne lymphadenopathy


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