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Emerg Infect Dis. 2002 May;8(5):467-72.

Genetic variants of Ehrlichia phagocytophila, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


Primers were used to amplify a 561-bp region of the 16S rRNA gene of Ehrlichia phagocytophila from Ixodes scapularis ticks and small mammals collected in Rhode Island and Connecticut. DNA sequences for all 50 E. phagocytophila-positive samples collected from 1996 through 1998 in southwestern Connecticut were identical to the sequence reported for E. phagocytophila DNA from confirmed human cases. In contrast, the sequences from 92 of 123 E. phagocytophila-positive Rhode Island samples collected from 1996 through 1999 included several variants differing by 1-2 nucleotides from that in the agent infecting humans. While 11.9% of 67 E. phagocytophila-positive ticks collected during 1997 in Rhode Island harbored ehrlichiae with sequences identical to that of the human agent, 79.1% had a variant sequence not previously described. The low incidence of human ehrlichiosis in Rhode Island may in part result from interference by these variant ehrlichiae with maintenance and transmission of the true agent of human disease.

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