Molecular survey of flaviviruses and orthobunyaviruses in Amblyomma spp. ticks collected in Minas Gerais, Brazil

Abstract Due to anthropic environmental changes, vector-borne diseases are emerging worldwide. Ticks are known vectors of several pathogens of concern among humans and animals. In recent decades, several examples of tick-borne emerging viral diseases have been reported (Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, Powassan virus, encephalitis virus, heartland virus, severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus). Unfortunately, few studies addressing the presence of viruses in wild ticks have been carried out in South America. With the aim of detecting flaviviruses and orthobunyaviruses in ticks, we carried out molecular detection in wild ticks collected in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. No Flavivirus-positive ticks were detected; however, we detected activity of Orthobunyavirus in 8 Amblyomma tick specimens. One of those individuals was positive for Bunyamwera orthobunyavirus, which represents the first report of this virus among ticks in South America. Further studies related to the ecology of zoonotic diseases are needed to increase knowledge of this topic, including attempts at viral isolation, full genome sequencing and biological characterization. In this way, we will obtain a better picture of the real risk of ticks as a vector for viral diseases for humans and animals on our continent, where no tick-borne viral disease is known to occur.