JOURNAL ARTICLE

Coyotes (Canis latrans) as the reservoir for a human pathogenic Bartonella sp.: molecular epidemiology of Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii infection in coyotes from central coastal California

C C Chang, R W Kasten, B B Chomel, D C Simpson, C M Hew, D L Kordick, R Heller, Y Piemont, E B Breitschwerdt
Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2000, 38 (11): 4193-200
11060089
Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii was originally isolated from a dog suffering infectious endocarditis and was recently identified as a zoonotic agent causing human endocarditis. Following the coyote bite of a child who developed clinical signs compatible with Bartonella infection in Santa Clara County, Calif., this epidemiological study was conducted. Among 109 coyotes (Canis latrans) from central coastal California, 31 animals (28%) were found to be bacteremic with B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii and 83 animals (76%) had B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii antibodies. These findings suggest these animals could be the wildlife reservoir of B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii. PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) analysis of the gltA and 16S rRNA genes for these 31 isolates yielded similar profiles that were identical to those of B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii. Partial sequencing of the gltA and 16S rRNA genes, respectively, indicated 99.5 and 100% homology between the coyote isolate and B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii (ATCC 51672). PCR-RFLP analysis of the 16S-23S intergenic spacer region showed the existence of two different strain profiles, as has been reported in dogs. Six (19%) of 31 Bartonella bacteremic coyotes exhibited the strain profile that was identified in the type strain of a canine endocarditis case (B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii ATCC 51672). The other 25 bacteremic coyotes were infected with a strain that was similar to the strains isolated from healthy dogs. Based on whole bacterial genome analysis by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) with SmaI restriction endonuclease, there was more diversity in fingerprints for the coyote isolates, which had at least 10 major variants compared to the two variants described for domestic dog isolates from the eastern United States. By PFGE analysis, three Bartonella bacteremic coyotes were infected by a strain identical to the one isolated from three healthy dog carriers. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the mode of transmission of B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii, especially to identify potential vectors, and to determine how humans become infected.

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