Molecular surveillance for vector-borne bacteria in rodents and tree shrews of Peninsular Malaysia oil palm plantations

Mohd-Azami, Siti Nurul Izzah and Loong, Shih Keng and Khoo, Jing Jing and Husin, Nurul Aini and Lim, Fang Shiang and Mahfodz, Nur Hidayana and Ishak, Siti Nabilah and Mohd-Taib, Farah Shafawati and Makepeace, Benjamin L. L. and Abu Bakar, Sazaly (2023) Molecular surveillance for vector-borne bacteria in rodents and tree shrews of Peninsular Malaysia oil palm plantations. Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease, 8 (2). ISSN 2414-6366, DOI

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Many human clinical cases attributed to vector-borne pathogens are underreported in Malaysia, especially in rural localities where healthcare infrastructures are lacking. Here, 217 small mammals, consisting of rodents and tree shrews, were trapped in oil palm plantations in the Peninsular Malaysia states of Johor and Perak. Species identification was performed using morphological and DNA barcoding analyses, and 203 small mammals were included in the detection of selected vector-borne bacteria. The DNA extracted from the spleens was examined for Orientia tsutsugamushi, Borrelia spp., Bartonella spp. and Rickettsia spp. using established PCR assays. The small mammals collected in this study included Rattus tanezumi R3 mitotype (n = 113), Rattus argentiventer (n = 24), Rattus tiomanicus (n = 22), Rattus exulans (n = 17), Rattus tanezumi sensu stricto (n = 1) and Tupaia glis (n = 40). Orientia tsutsugamushi, Borrelia spp. and Bartonella phoceensis were detected in the small mammals with the respective detection rates of 12.3%, 5.9% and 4.9%. Rickettsia spp., however, was not detected. This study encountered the presence of both Lyme disease and relapsing fever-related borreliae in small mammals collected from the oil palm plantation study sites. All three microorganisms (Orientia tsutsugamushi, Borrelia spp. and Bartonella phoceensis) were detected in the R. tanezumi R3 mitotype, suggesting that the species is a competent host for multiple microorganisms. Further investigations are warranted to elucidate the relationships between the ectoparasites, the small mammals and the respective pathogens.

Item Type: Article
Funders: Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia with grant number (Grant No: MO002-2019), Institutional Links grant - Newton-Ungku Omar Fund partnership (Grant No: 332192305), UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Energy and Industrial Strategy and Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Universiti Malaya research grant (Grant No: RU005-2020), The British Council in India
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bartonella phoceensis; Borrelia spp; Infectious disease; Orientia tsutsugamushi; Rattus spp; Rickettsia spp
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Divisions: Institute of Advanced Studies
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Office > Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Centre
Depositing User: Ms Zaharah Ramly
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2023 03:23
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2023 03:23

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