Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options Skip directly to A-Z link Skip directly to A-Z link Skip directly to A-Z link
Volume 20, Number 10—October 2014

Borrelia garinii and Rickettsia monacensis in Ixodes ricinus Ticks, Algeria

Cite This Article

To the Editor: Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) is caused by a group of related spirochetes (Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato) that include ≥11 species (1). In northern Africa, the main vector of Lyme disease in Europe (Ixodes ricinus ticks) is also present, and this disease has been suspected to be present in this region of Africa (2). Twenty-one cases of Lyme disease were reported in Algiers, Algeria, during 1996–1999 (3). However, these cases were diagnosed by detection of only serum antibodies against B. burgdorferi by ELISA without confirmation by Western blotting.

I. ricinus ticks are also known to harbor spotted fever group rickettsiae, including Rickettsia monacensis, which was detected in Algeria in 2009 (4). This rickettsia has been recently identified as a human pathogen in Spain and Italy (5).

To investigate Lyme disease and tickborne rickettsioses transmitted by I. ricinus ticks in northeastern Algeria, we collected ticks by using the flag method in El Ghora (Bougous, El Tarf) (36°39′34″N, 8°22′10″E). Ectoparasites were collected in March 2012 and identified to genus and species by using taxonomic morphologic keys (6).

Total genomic DNA was isolated by using the QIAamp Tissue Kit (QIAGEN, Hilden, Germany) and BioRobot EZ1 (QIAGEN) as described by the manufacturer. DNA was used as template for quantitative real-time PCR. We used the RKND03 system, which is specific for the gltA gene of Rickettsia spp. (7), and the Bor16S system, which is specific for the rrs gene of Borrelia spp. (8). Real-time PCRs were performed by using the CFX96 Real Time System C1000 Touch Thermal Cycler (Bio-Rad Laboratories, Singapore).

Positive results were confirmed by using a standard PCR specific for the ompA gene of Rickettsia spp. and the 16S rRNA and flaB genes of Borrelia spp. (8). We used bacteria-free DNA of Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks reared in our laboratory colonies as a negative control and DNA of B. crocidurae and R. montanensis, which are not known to be associated with I. ricinus ticks, as a positive control.

PCR amplification was verified by electrophoresis of products on 2% agarose gels. Products were purified by using a NucleoFast 96 PCR plate (Macherey-Nagel EURL, Hoerdt, France) as recommended by the manufacturer. Purified PCR products were sequenced by using the same primers as for a standard PCR and the BigDye version 1–1 Cycle Ready Reaction Sequencing Mixture (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA, USA) in the ABI 31000 automated sequencer (Applied Biosystems). Sequences were assembled and analyzed by using ChromasPro version 1.34 software (Technelysium Pty. Ltd., Tewantin, Queensland, Australia).

Ninety-four ticks were collected by using the dragging method; these ticks belonged to 2 species: 85.1% (80/174) were I. ricinus ricks (43 females, 22 males, and 15 nymphs) and 14.9% (14/94) were Rh. sanguineus adult ticks (11 females and 3 males). We screened only the 80 I. ricinus ricks. Rh. sanguineus ticks were kept alive to establish laboratory colonies for other experiments. Overall, 5.0% (4/80) of I. ricinus ticks were positive for Borrelia spp. and 8.75% (7/80) were positive for Rickettsia spp.

Using a standard PCR specific for the flaB gene, we identified B. garinii in all ticks positive by quantitative real-time PCR (100% similarity, 736/736 bp) (GenBank accession no. CP003151.1). Using a standard PCR specific for the ompA gene of Rickettsia spp., we identified R. monacensis (100% similarity 760/760 bp) (GenBank accession no. FJ919640.1).

We have detected B. garinii, a cause of Lyme disease, in Algeria in I. ricinus ticks by using a standard PCR and sequencing methods. We also confirmed the presence of R. monacensis in this country.

Borrelia spp. have been detected in I. ricinus ticks in Tunisia and Morocco (2,9), and B. lusitaniae was found to be predominant (97% of Borrelia spp. in Tunisia and 93% in Morocco). However, B. garinii was also present (2,9,10). In Tunisia, 1/16 I. ricinus ticks were positive for B. garinii (2,9). In Morocco, 3 (3.6%) of 82 were positive for B. burgdorferi sensu stricto and 3 (3.6%) of 82 were positive for B. garinii (9). However, in these studies, Borrelia spp. were identified by using restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis (2,9).

B. garinii is the most neurotropic of the genospecies of B. burgdorferi sensu lato; it causes meningopolyneuritis and, rarely, encephalomyelitis (1). Clinicians need to be aware of the prevalence of this bacterium in Algeria. Our results help clarify the epidemiology of B. garinii in Algeria. R. monacensis is an agent of tickborne diseases that was detected in Algeria in 2009 (4). The few cases that have been described were characterized by influenza-like symptoms, fever, an inoculation eschar, and a generalized rash (5).

In northern Africa, the risk areas for Lyme disease and infection with R. monacensis include cool and humid areas in the Atlas Mountains. In this region, humans can come in contact with I. ricinus ticks, and these ticks might play a major role in transmission of B. garinii and R. monacensis.


Wassila Benredjem1, Hamza Leulmi1, Idir Bitam, Didier Raoult, and Philippe ParolaComments to Author 
Author affiliations: Université d’El Tarf, El Tarf, Algeria (W. Benredjem); Aix Marseille Université, Marseille, France (H. Leulmi, D. Raoult, P. Parola); Université de Boumerdes, Boumerdes, Algeria (I. Bitam)



  1. Stanek  G, Wormser  GP, Gray  J, Strle  F. Lyme borreliosis. Lancet. 2012;379:46173. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bouattour  A, Ghorbel  A, Chabchoub  A, Postic  D. Lyme borreliosis situation in north Africa [in French]. Arch Inst Pasteur Tunis. 2004;81:1320 .PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Alem  A, Hadji  N. Clinico-serologic study of Lyme disease in Algeria (1996–1999) [in French]. Arch Inst Pasteur Alger. 1999;63:4958.
  4. Dib  L, Bitam  I, Bensouilah  M, Parola  P, Raoult  D. First description of Rickettsia monacensis in Ixodes ricinus in Algeria. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2009;15(Suppl 2):2612. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Parola  P, Paddock  CD, Socolovschi  C, Labruna  MB, Mediannikov  O, Kernif  T, Update on tick-borne rickettsioses around the world: a geographic approach. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2013;26:657702. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Estrada-Pena  A, Bouattour  A, Camicas  JL, Walker  AR. Ticks of domestic animals in the Mediterranean region, a guide to identification of species. Zaragoza (Spain); University of Zaragoza; 2004.
  7. Socolovschi  C, Mediannikov  O, Sokhna  C, Tall  A, Diatta  G, Bassene  H, Rickettsia felis–associated uneruptive fever, Senegal. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010;16:11402. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Socolovschi  C, Kernif  T, Raoult  D, Parola  P. Borrelia, Rickettsia, and Ehrlichia species in bat ticks, France, 2010. Emerg Infect Dis. 2012;18:196675. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Sarih  M, Jouda  F, Gern  L, Postic  D. First isolation of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato from Ixodes ricinus ticks in Morocco. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2003;3:1339. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Younsi  H, Postic  D, Baranton  G, Bouattour  A. High prevalence of Borrelia lusitaniae in Ixodes ricinus ticks in Tunisia. Eur J Epidemiol. 2001;17:536. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar


Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2010.140265

1These authors contributed equally to this article.

Related Links


Table of Contents – Volume 20, Number 10—October 2014

EID Search Options
presentation_01 Advanced Article Search – Search articles by author and/or keyword.
presentation_01 Articles by Country Search – Search articles by the topic country.
presentation_01 Article Type Search – Search articles by article type and issue.



Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Philippe Parola, Faculte de Medecine, Institute Hospitalier Universitaire Mediterranée Infection, Aix Marseille Université, Bd Jean Moulin, Marseille 13005, France

Send To

10000 character(s) remaining.


Page created: September 23, 2014
Page updated: September 23, 2014
Page reviewed: September 23, 2014
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.