Rickettsial agents detected in ixodid ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) collected from Sus scrofa (Artiodactyla: Suidae) in Florida and South Carolina.
Feral swine, Sus scrofa L., have become a nuisance to landowners across the United States by damaging agriculture, property, and ecosystems. Additionally, these animals have been found to host various ixodid ticks including Amblyomma americanum (L.), Amblyomma maculatum Koch, Dermacentor variabilis (Say), and Ixodes scapularis Say, which can maintain and transmit several rickettsial pathogens to livestock, wildlife, and humans. Though previous research has identified the maintenance cycle of several rickettsial pathogens in ticks and native wildlife, little is known about the role S. scrofa plays in supporting ixodid ticks and the pathogens these ticks could be harboring. This study sought to identify rickettsial agents (Rickettsiales: Anaplasmataceae and Rickettsiaceae) in ticks collected from S. scrofa obtained in Florida and South Carolina. Overall, ticks from four species (A. americanum, D. variabilis, I. scapularis, and A. maculatum) totaling 258 collected individuals were obtained from S. scrofa (n = 45). We found an Ehrlichia chaffeensis Anderson et al. infection prevalence in A. americanum of 2.7% and 2.9% in Florida and South Carolina, respectively. A Rickettsia parkeri Lackman et al. prevalence of 100% and 33% was found in A. maculatum from Florida and South Carolina, respectively. Additionally, a 0.9% infection prevalence of R. parkeri was identified in A. americanum collected in South Carolina. A 1.9% Ehrlichia ewingii Anderson et al. infection prevalence was documented in collected A. americanum in South Carolina. Further studies are warranted to better understand the role S. scrofa plays in the natural maintenance of rickettsial agents in various regions of the United States.