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J Clin Microbiol. 2003 Oct;41(10):4617-22.

Predominance of Ehrlichia ewingii in Missouri dogs.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


To investigate the species distribution of Ehrlichia present in Missouri dogs, we tested 78 dogs suspected of having acute ehrlichiosis and 10 healthy dogs. Blood from each dog was screened with a broad-range 16S rRNA gene PCR assay that detects known pathogenic species of Ehrlichia and ANAPLASMA: The species was determined by using species-specific PCR assays and nucleotide sequencing. Ehrlichia antibody testing was performed by using an indirect immunofluorescence assay with Ehrlichia chaffeensis as the antigenic substrate. The broad-range assay detected Ehrlichia or Anaplasma DNA in 20 (26%) of the symptomatic dogs and 2 (20%) of the asymptomatic dogs. E. ewingii accounted for 20 (91%), and E. chaffeensis accounted for 1 (5%) of the positives. Anaplasma phagocytophilum DNA was detected in one dog, and the sequences of regions of the 16S rRNA gene and the groESL operon amplified from the blood of this dog matched the published sequences of this organism. Antibodies reactive with E. chaffeensis were detected in 14 (67%) of the 21 PCR-positive dogs and in 12 (19%) of the 64 PCR-negative dogs. Combining the results of PCR and serology indicated that 33 (39%) of 85 evaluable dogs had evidence of past or current Ehrlichia infection. We conclude that E. ewingii is the predominant etiologic agent of canine ehrlichiosis in the areas of Missouri included in this survey. E. canis, a widely recognized agent of canine ehrlichiosis, was not detected in any animal. The finding of E. ewingii in asymptomatic dogs suggests that dogs could be a reservoir for this Ehrlichia species.

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