Anaplasma phagocytophilum is transmitted mainly by hard ticks and can cause potentially fatal granulocytic anaplasmosis in humans, but its occurrence in ticks in Taiwan has never been investigated although this pathogen has been detected in Taiwanese rodents before. Ticks collected from small mammals in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, were assayed for Anaplasma infections; infections of Rickettsia and Apicomplexa protozoans were also studied. Of the 270 individually assayed Rhipicephalus haemaphysaloides ticks, A. phagocytophilum was identified in a nymphal tick. Parasites most similar to Anaplasma bovis, Rickettsia rickettsii, Rickettsia sp. TwKM01, and at least seven apicomplexan species (including genera Cryptosporidium, Hepatozoon, and Theileria) were also identified. This study shows that A. phagocytophilum does occur in the hard tick in Taiwan, although whether R. haemaphysaloides can vector this pathogen remains to be determined. This work also reveals a high diversity of tick-borne bacteria and protozoans circulating in a small region and calls for further research on their potential risks for human health.
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