Coxiella-like endosymbiont in argasid ticks (Ornithodoros muesebecki) from a Socotra Cormorant colony in Umm Al Quwain, United Arab Emirates

Mohammad A. Al-Deeb, Dimitrios Frangoulidis, Mathias C. Walter, Daniela Kömpf, Silke F. Fischer, Trevor Petney, Sabir Bin Muzaffar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Coxiella burnetii is a pathogen causing Q fever in domestic animals and humans. Seabirds have been implicated as possible reservoirs of this bacterium in the Arabian Gulf and in the Western Indian Ocean. Recently, Coxiella species closely related to C. burnetii was detected from ticks collected from oil rigs used as roosting areas by Socotra Cormorants (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis) in the western Arabian Gulf. We collected ticks from the largest breeding colony of Socotra Cormorants in the United Arab Emirates on the eastern extreme of the species' breeding range to determine the prevalence of C. burnetii and evaluate its role as a wild reservoir. All ticks were identified as Ornithodoros muesebecki and genomic DNA was extracted from larval and nymph/adult tick pools. Multiplex PCR tests were performed targeting three C. burnetii specific genes. C. burnetii was not detected although a Coxiella-like endosymbiont was identified that was closely related to Coxiella symbionts from Ornithodoros capensis ticks. Because domestic and wild ungulates are the primary source of C. burnetii, we suggest that the presence of free-ranging, native and non-native ungulates in some off-shore islands in the Arabian Gulf could disseminate C. burnetii to seabirds. More comprehensive studies on seabird colonies are needed to better understand the diversity and prevalence of Coxiella symbionts and to establish if C. burnetii is endemic on some of these islands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-171
Number of pages6
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Coxiella
  • Endosymbiont
  • Ornithodoros muesebecki
  • Phalacrocorax nigrogularis
  • Socotra Cormorant
  • Soft tick

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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