Identification of the etiologic agent of epizootic bovine abortion in field-collected Ornithodoros coriaceus Koch ticks

Ching I. Chen, Donald P. King, Myra T. Blanchard, Mark R. Hall, Brian M. Aldridge, Lizabeth Bowen, Jeffrey L. Stott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epizootic bovine abortion (EBA), or foothill abortion as it has often been termed, is a tick-borne disease of pregnant cattle recognized in California, Nevada and Oregon. The primary objective of this study was to better define the relationship of a novel deltaproteobacterium, the putative etiological agent of EBA (aoEBA), with the Pajaroello tick (Ornithodoros coriaceus Koch), the recognized vector of EBA. Three developmental stages of O. coriaceus (larva, nymph, and adult) were collected from five locations in California, Nevada and Oregon. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR), developed for detection of aoEBA, was applied to DNA extracted from ticks. Southern blotting of the PCR products increased the number of ticks determined to be carrying the bacteria by seven-fold, suggesting the majority of infected ticks carry relatively low numbers of the pathogen. An effort was made to determine if an artificial blood meal would stimulate replication of the bacterial pathogen, thereby increasing the frequency in which aoEBA could be identified; no statistically significant effect was evident. The number of ticks determined to be carrying aoEBA varied with geographic location and ranged from 5 to 20%. aoEBA was found in both adults (12% of the males and 12% of the females) and nymphs (13%) but not larvae. Comparative analysis of dissected ticks provided strong evidence that the salivary gland was the most common location of aoEBA in field-collected ticks. No significant correlations were identified between the frequency of infection and tick weight, suggesting that increasing tick age and increased number of blood meals did not increase infectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-327
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 10 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Argasidae
  • Deltaproteobacterium
  • Epizootic bovine abortion
  • Foothill abortion
  • Ornithodoros coriaceus
  • Pajaroello tick

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • General Veterinary


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