Tick-borne rickettsioses include mild to life-threatening diseases in humans worldwide. When removing an attached tick from the human body, patients and physicians may have two questions: 1) is the tick a known vector of a human infectious disease, and 2) is the tick infected by a pathogenic agent that could have been transmitted during the attachment period? The morphological identification of Ticks is difficult, and requires expertise and specific documentation. The use of Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) has recently emerged as an effective, rapid and inexpensive tool to identify arthropods including Ticks. Here, we show the utility of MALDI-TOF MS for the dual identification of tick species and the rapid detection of Rickettsia spp in Ticks. Such results can be used to guide decisions related to specific patient monitoring or the administration of preventive treatment. Additionally, the low consumable costs, the minimum time required for sample preparation and the rapid availability of the results of MALDI-TOF MS could be useful for epidemiological studies and tick-borne disease monitoring via the dual identification of vectors and the pathogens they carry in one step. These results present new opportunities for the management of other vector-borne diseases that are of importance to public health.
Detection of Rickettsia spp in Ticks by MALDI-TOF MS