Prevalence of tick-borne viruses in Ixodes ricinus assessed by high-throughput real-time PCR
Ticks are one of the principal arthropod vectors of human and animal infectious diseases. Whereas the prevalence of tick-borne encephalitis virus in ticks in Europe is well studied, there is less information available on the prevalence of the other tick-borne viruses (TBVs) existing worldwide. The aim of this study was to improve the epidemiological survey tools of TBVs by the development of an efficient high-throughput test to screen a wide range of viruses in ticks. In this study, we developed a new high-throughput virus-detection assay based on parallel real-time PCRs on a microfluidic system, and used it to perform a large scale epidemiological survey screening for the presence of 21 TBVs in 18,135 nymphs of I. ricinus collected from five European countries. This extensive investigation has (i) evaluated the prevalence of four viruses present in the collected ticks, (ii) allowed the identification of viruses in regions where they were previously undetected. In conclusion, we have demonstrated the capabilities of this new screening method that allows the detection of numerous TBVs in a large number of ticks. This tool represents a powerful and rapid system for TBVs surveillance in Europe and could be easily customized to assess viral emergence.