One health approach to identify pathogens transmitted by ticks and responsible for unexplained syndromes in humans and animals

The research project

a multidisciplinary project combining veterinarians, doctors, scientists and sociologists to better characterize the diseases transmitted by ticks in a “One Health” approach.

In Europe, ticks are the first arthropods to carry pathogens for humans and pets and the incidence of tick-transmitted diseases is increasing. In Europe, the most common tick-borne disease in humans is Lyme borreliosis, with 90,000 new cases estimated each year (300,000 new cases each year in the United States).

This disease is first diagnosed clinically by the presence of a migrant erythema following a tick bite and in its late stages by serological tests. In addition to the classic cases of Lyme borreliosis, patients bitten by ticks complain of objective clinical symptoms that cannot be linked to an already known disease transmitted by ticks (asthenia, fever, myalgia, etc.) for which the diagnosis cannot be established.

In domestic animals, especially cattle and dogs that are infected with the same tick species as humans, the situation is similar. In this context, we propose a multidisciplinary project combining veterinarians, doctors, scientists and sociologists in order to better characterize tick-borne diseases in a “One Health” approach.

The specific scientific objectives of our project are

Detect, identify and isolate

novel, little-known or unexpected microorganisms from the collection of patients and animals with unexplained syndromes after tick bites.


the ability of ticks to transmit these agents

Provide elements

for better management of tick-borne diseases.

This is the duration in years, during which this project is funded by the ANR.
Two research technicians, one post-doc researcher and one clinical research associate will be recruited for this project.

The main stages of the project

Sampling of samples

Step n°1

This step will be devoted to sampling (including sampling strategy, database building, storage, ethical issues, etc.).
This task will aim to collect the various samples from sick humans and domestic animals (mainly livestock and dogs) identified by the medical and veterinary networks involved in TBD monitoring.


Step n°2

Step 2 will identify, from samples of diseased animals and humans, those infected with neglected tick-transmitted pathogens (i. e., new tick-transmitted pathogens not identified by a commercially available conventional diagnostic tool). This preliminary screening will be carried out on DNA extracted from the blood of humans and animals with unexplained syndromes after tick bites (or exposed to ticks) using Q-PCR PCR on a chip based on microfluidic real-time high-flow microfluidic PCR technology.


Step n°3

Task 3 will be devoted to the discovery, through next-generation sequencing, of potentially new or unexpected pathogen sequences (known to be pathogenic in other regions or transmitted by arthropods other than ticks) in human and animal samples.


Step n°4

Task 4 will aim to isolate as far as possible and (better) characterize new, unexpected or neglected microorganisms identified and establish an epidemiological link between unexplained syndromes, tick bites and the presence of pathogens.


Step n°5

Step 5 will evaluate their possible transmission by ticks by identifying these micro-organisms in the ticks of our own collection and collected annually in different regions of France and by proving the competence of ticks for these pathogens by using techniques of artificial feeding of ticks from our colonies of ticks free of pathogens.


Step n°6

Step 6 will be devoted to the implementation of advanced tools to detect all pathogens transmissible by ticks (bacteria, viruses and parasites known, neglected and new) as a prerequisite for the development of diagnostic tests for TBD diseases specifically dedicated to bovine and human companion animals.

Who are we?


INRA researchers (vectotiq team) specialized in ticks and the pathogens they transmit: Muriel Vayssier-Taussat coordinator of the OHTicks project and Jean François Cosson coordinator of the CiTique participative science project, which ensures the link between the 2 projects and promotes the social impact of the OHticks project via the CiTique project.

Physicians: first of all Professors Chirouze (CHU Besançon) and Salomon (CHU Garches) in conjunction with doctors from 2 other CHUs involved in the project: the Saint Antoine Hospital in Paris (Pr Jean Luc Meynard), the CHU of Saint Etienne (Pr Céline Cazorla) and the doctors of the Sentinelle network. The Institut Pasteur is the promoter of the study.

Researchers from L’ Institut Pasteur: several Pasteur Institute teams are participating in this project: Dr. Noelle Ungeheuer, who is in charge of the ICAREB platform that will manage the samples we receive, Prof. Eloit who uses high throughput sequencing methods to identify new pathogens, and Prof. Arnaud Fontanet who participates in the epidemiological analysis of the results.

Researchers from the Institut Hospitalo Universitaire de Marseille: in particular Prof. Raoult and his team who will participate in the isolation of bacterial strains that have been identified in patients bitten by ticks.

Impact of the project:

The results obtained under this project will be used to develop new diagnostic tests, to promote better public information (including an original participatory science approach developed within the CiTique project and better training of veterinary students and doctors) and to identify recommendations addressed to public health authorities for better management of tick-borne diseases.

Patient recruitment:

The clinical research project on diseases transmitted by tick bites (OHTICKS project) started in early 2018 in 4 hospitals in France: CHU de Garches, Saint Antoine à Paris, Besançon and Saint Etienne.

This research was funded by the National Research Agency (ANR). It is promoted by the Institut Pasteur in partnership with AP-HP and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA).

If you are interested, we invite you to contact the participating hospital closest to your home, which will check if you meet the criteria required to participate in the study.

Thank you very much for your interest in our project.

The OHTICKS team




+33 (0)1 49 77 28 12


ANSES Maisons-Alfort
Laboratoire de Santé Animale – UMR BIPAR
14, Rue Pierre et Marie Curie
94 701 Maisons-Alfort Cedex

Some links to consult

Projet CiTique, citizens and ticks to better understand the ecology of ticks and the diseases they transmit.

Signalement tique, an application to report ticks bites on humans and animals

TELETIQ is a research project whose objective is to test new approaches that mobilize mobile phone and participatory science data to estimate the risks of transmission of tick-borne diseases throughout France in order to improve prevention.