Dugan, V. G., Gaydos, J. K., Stallknecht, D. E., Little, S. E., Beall, A. D., Mead, D. G., Hurd, C. C., Davidson, W. R.
Detection of Ehrlichia Spp. In Raccoons (Procyon Lotor) from Georgia
Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2005 Jul 01; 5(2): 162-71.
Raccoons (Procyonis lotor) and opossums (Didelphis virginianus) acquired from six contiguous counties in the Piedmont physiographic region of Georgia were investigated for their potential role in the epidemiology of ehrlichial and anaplasmal species. Serum was tested by indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) assay for the presence of antibodies reactive to Ehrlichia chaffeensis, E. canis, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum (HGA agent). Nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was used to test whole blood or white blood cell preparations for the presence of Ehrlichia and Anaplasma spp. 16S rRNA (rDNA) gene fragments. In addition, ticks were collected from these animals and identified. Twenty-three of 60 raccoons (38.3%) had E. chaffeensis-reactive antibodies (>1:64), 13 of 60 raccoons (21.7%) had E. canis-reactive antibodies, and one of 60 raccoons (1.7%) had A. phagocytophilum- reactive antibodies. A sequence confirmed E. canis product was obtained from one of 60 raccoons and a novel Ehrlichia-like 16S rDNA sequence was detected in 32 of 60 raccoons. This novel sequence was most closely related to an Ehrlichia-like organism identified from Ixodes ticks and rodents in Asia and Europe. Raccoons were PCR negative for E. chaffeensis and E. ewingii DNA. Five tick species, including Dermacentor variabilis, Amblyomma americanum, Ixodes texanus, I. cookei, and I. scapularis, were identified from raccoons and represent potential vectors for the ehrlichiae detected. Opossums (n = 17) were free of ticks and negative on all IFA and PCR assays. This study suggests that raccoons are potentially involved in the epidemiology of multiple ehrlichial organisms with known or potential public health and veterinary implications.
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