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Molecular investigation of tick-borne pathogens in ticks removed from tick-bitten humans in the Republic of Korea
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  • Mi-Seon Bang,
  • Choon-Mee Kim,
  • Sang-Hyun Pyun,
  • Dong-Min Kim,
  • Na-Ra Yoon
Mi-Seon Bang
Chosun University College of Medicine
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Choon-Mee Kim
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Sang-Hyun Pyun
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Dong-Min Kim
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Na-Ra Yoon
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This study investigated the presence of tick-borne pathogens in ticks removed from humans in Korea. We identified 33 ticks from three tick species, namely Amblyomma testudinarium (60.6%), Haemaphysalis longicornis (27.3%), and Ixodes nipponensis (12.1%) in order of occurrence. Tick-borne pathogens were found in 16 ticks using pathogen-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR). From the results, 12 ticks (36.4%) tested positive for spotted fever group (SFG) Rickettsia: Rickettsia monacensis (1/12), R. tamurae (8/12), and Candidatus Rickettsia jingxinensis (3/12). Three ticks (9.1%) were positive for Anaplasma phagocytophilum. In addition, three ticks (9.1%) tested positive for Babesia gibsoni (1/3) and B. microti (2/3). In conclusion, we identified three tick species; the most common species was A. testudinarium followed by H. longicornis and I. nipponensis. SFG Rickettsia, A. phagocytophilum, and Babesia spp. were the most frequently detected pathogens in ticks removed from tick-bitten humans. R. tamurae and Ca. R. jingxinensis were firstly detected in Korea.