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J Parasitol. 1996 Feb;82(1):52-8.

Ehrlichia-like 16S rDNA sequence from wild white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).

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Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


The reservoir hosts of Ehrlichia chaffeensis, etiologic agent of human ehrlichiosis are unknown. Initially, white-tailed deer (WTD) were serologically implicated as possible reservoirs of E. chaffeensis. Subsequent studies showed that WTD were susceptible to infection with E. chaffeensis and that deer-to-deer transmission by a tick vector, Amblyomma americanum, is possible under experimental conditions. To determine if wild WTD were infected with E. chaffeensis, whole blood was collected from 10 deer from Oklahoma and Georgia. All 10 deer had antibodies reactive to E. chaffeensis. Whereas E. chaffeensis was not isolated, restriction enzyme mapping and sequencing of the 16S rDNA gene revealed that a unique Ehrlichia-like agent was present. All 10 deer appeared to be infected with the same agent. We suspect that A. americanum is the vector of this new agent based upon the previously published temporal association between the appearance of E. chaffeensis seropositive WTD and A. americanum. However, the taxonomic and antigenic relationships, geographic distribution, epidemiology, and zoonotic potential of this agent are yet to be determined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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