[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We previously culture isolated a strain of Ehrlichia canis, the causative agent of canine ehrlichiosis, from a human in Venezuela. In the present study, we examined whether dogs and ticks are infected with E. canis in Venezuela and, if so, whether this is the same strain as the human isolate. PCR analysis using E. canis-specific primers revealed that 17 of the 55 dog blood samples (31%) and all three pools of four Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks each were positive. An ehrlichial agent (Venezuelan dog Ehrlichia [VDE]) was isolated and propagated in cell culture from one dog sample and was further analyzed to determine its molecular and antigenic characteristics. The 16S rRNA 1,408-bp sequence of the new VDE isolate was identical to that of the previously reported Venezuelan human Ehrlichia isolate (VHE) and was closely related (99.9%) to that of E. canis Oklahoma. The 5' (333-bp) and 3' (653-bp) sequences of the variable regions of the 16S rRNA genes from six additional E. canis-positive dog blood specimens and from three pooled-tick specimens were also identical to those of VHE. Western blot analysis of serum samples from three dogs infected with VDE by using several ehrlichial antigens revealed that the antigenic profile of the VDE was similar to the profiles of VHE and E. canis Oklahoma. Identical 16S rRNA gene sequences among ehrlichial organisms from dogs, ticks, and a human in the same geographic region in Venezuela and similar antigenic profiles between the dog and human isolates suggest that dogs serve as a reservoir of human E. canis infection and that R. sanguineus, which occasionally bites humans residing or traveling in this region, serves as a vector. This is the first report of culture isolation and antigenic characterization of an ehrlichial agent from a dog in South America, as well as the first molecular characterization of E. canis directly from naturally infected ticks.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology 09/2001; 39(8):2788-93. · 4.07 Impact Factor