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J Infect Dis. 2000 Aug;182(2):616-9. Epub 2000 Jul 28.

Transmission of the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis by Ixodes spinipalpis ticks: evidence of an enzootic cycle of dual infection with Borrelia burgdorferi in Northern Colorado.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, Lyme Disease Vector Section, Foothills Campus, Fort Collins, CO 80522, USA.


Previous work described an enzootic cycle of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (hereafter referred to as B. burgdorferi) maintained by the rodent Neotoma mexicana and the tick Ixodes spinipalpis in northern Colorado. We investigated the incidence of coinfection among rodents with the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (aoHGE). aoHGE was detected in 23.5% of 119 rodent spleens examined. Biopsy results indicated that 78 (65.5%) of the 119 rodents were positive for B. burgdorferi, whereas 22 (78.5%) of the 28 animals that harbored aoHGE were also infected with B. burgdorferi. In 14 of 25 I. spinipalpis tick pools, aoHGE was detected by amplifying both the 16s rRNA and p44 gene of aoHGE. The ability of I. spinipalpis to transmit aoHGE was examined in C3H/HeJ mice. aoHGE was detected in their blood 5 days after I. spinipalpis infestation. This study confirms that both B. burgdorferi and aoHGE can be transmitted by I. spinipalpis ticks and that there is a high incidence of coinfection in rodents, predominantly Peromyscus maniculatus and N. mexicana, that inhabit the foothills of northern Colorado.

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