First molecular evidence of zoonotic bacteria in ticks in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the tick fauna is very diverse, but data on the occurrence of zoonotic tick-borne bacteria are lacking. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, 'Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis', spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsiae and Francisella tularensis in questing ticks. In 19 (21.8%) of 87 ticks (Ixodes ricinus, n=30; Dermacentor reticulatus, n=54; D. marginatus, n=3) collected by flagging the vegetation at the collection site in the Glamoč Municipality (south-western Bosnia and Herzegovina), Rickettsia monacensis (1.1%), R. helvetica (5.7%), R. raoultii (5.7%), R. slovaca (8.0%), A. phagocytophilum (1.1%) and F. tularensis subsp. holartica (1.1%) were detected and identified by molecular methods. None of the tested ticks were positive for B. burgdorferi s.l. and 'Candidatus N. mikurensis', and co-infection of R. slovaca and F. tularensis subsp. holarctica was detected in only one D. marginatus (1.1%). This study reports the occurrence of emerging zoonotic bacteria in ticks from Bosnia and Herzegovina for the first time, indicating a public health threat to humans. Therefore, physicians and practitioners should be aware of the presence of these tick-borne bacteria, especially when they are faced with acute febrile illnesses after tick exposure.