Infection with agents of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis, lyme disease, and babesiosis in wild white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) in Connecticut

Kirby C. Stafford, Robert F. Massung, Louis A. Magnarelli, Jacob W. Ijdo, John F. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

White-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus, were captured in southern Connecticut during 1997 and 1998 to determine the prevalence of infections caused by granulocytic Ehrlichia sp., Borrelia burgdorferi, and Babesia microti. Of the 50 mice captured and recaptured, 25 of 47 (53.2%) and 23 of 48 (47.9%) contained antibodies to the BDS or NCH-1 Ehrlichia strains, respectively, as determined by indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) staining methods. The majority (83.3%) of 48 mice also contained antibodies to B. burgdorferi, as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Moreover, 20 of 26 (76.9%) contained antibodies to B. microti by IFA staining methods. In nested PCR tests using the 16S rRNA gene, the DNA of the human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) agent was detected in 17 of 47 mice (36.2%), but only 4 (23.5%) of these 17 mice were PCR positive at each capture. Antibody-positive reactions to granulocytic Ehrlichia sp. organisms were detected in 17 of 23 (73.9%) of the PCR-positive mice. The sequences from PCR products from nine positive blood samples were identical to the HGE agent. Ehrlichia spp. were cultured from three of five mice captured in April 1998, including one that was PCR positive in April 1997. In addition, 2 of 14 larval Ixodes scapularis pools, which were attached to two PCR-positive mice, contained DNA of the HGE agent. A high percentage of white-footed mice are infected or have been infected naturally by the HGE agent with low-level persistent infection or frequent reinfection in some individual mice. However, the changes noted in the presence of DNA and antibodies in repeated blood and serum samples from individual mice over several months of field collection suggests that infection with granulocytic Ehrlichia is transient in most wild P. leucopus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2887-2892
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Volume37
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

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