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J Clin Microbiol. 1999 Aug;37(8):2631-8.

Coinfection with multiple tick-borne pathogens in a Walker Hound kennel in North Carolina.

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North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Raleigh, North Carolina 27606, USA.


Both dogs and humans can be coinfected with various Ehrlichia, Bartonella, Rickettsia, and Babesia species. We investigated a kennel of sick Walker Hounds and their owners in southeastern North Carolina for evidence of tick-borne infections and associated risk factors. A high degree of coinfection was documented in the dog population. Of the 27 dogs, 26 were seroreactive to an Ehrlichia sp., 16 to Babesia canis, and 25 to Bartonella vinsonii, and 22 seroconverted to Rickettsia rickettsii antigens. According to PCR results, 15 dogs were infected with Ehrlichia canis, 9 with Ehrlichia chaffeensis, 8 with Ehrlichia ewingii, 3 with Ehrlichia equi, 9 with Ehrlichia platys, 20 with a Rickettsia species, 16 with a Bartonella species, and 7 with B. canis. The detection of DNA from any Ehrlichia species was associated with clinical illness and with concurrent B. canis infection (by PCR). Both E. canis and an uncharacterized Rickettsia species appeared to result in chronic or recurrent infection. Death in the dog population was associated with living in a dirt lot rather than the concrete kennel. Of 23 people on whom serologic testing was conducted, eight were seroreactive to Bartonella henselae, one to E. chaffeensis, and one to R. rickettsii antigen; however, none had clinical or hematologic abnormalities consistent with illness caused by these organisms. We conclude that kennel dogs with heavy tick exposure can be infected at a high rate with multiple, potentially zoonotic, tick-borne pathogens. In addition, our findings further illustrate the utility of PCR for documenting coinfection with tick-transmitted pathogens.

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