Serologic and molecular evidence of coinfection with multiple vector-borne pathogens in dogs from Thailand

J Suksawat, Y Xuejie, S I Hancock, B C Hegarty, P Nilkumhang, E B Breitschwerdt
Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 2001, 15 (5): 453-62
Forty-nine dogs from Thailand were evaluated for serologic evidence of exposure or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) evidence of infection with vectorborne pathogens, including Ehrlichia sp. (Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Ehrlichia equi, and Ehrlichia risticii), Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffi (Bvb), spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsiae (Rickettsia rickettsii), Typhus group (TG) rickettsiae (Rickettsia canada, Rickettsia prowazekii, and Rickettsia typhi), and Babesia sp. (Babesia canis and Babesia gibsonii). All study dogs had at least 1 of 3 entry criteria: fever, anemia, or thrombocytopenia. By immunofluorescence antibody (IFA) testing, seroreactivity was most prevalent to E chaffeensis (74%) and E canis (71%) antigens, followed by E equi (58%), Bvb (38%), E risticii (38%), R prowazekii (24%), B canis (20%), R rickettsii (12%), R canada (4%), and B gibsonii (4%) antigens. There was 100% concordance between E canis IFA and Western blot immunoassay (WI) for 35 of 35 samples; 2 samples were IFA and WI reactive only to E equi antigens. By PCR amplification, 10 dogs were found to be infected with E canis, 5 with Ehrlichia platys, and 3 with B canis. Sequencing of PCR products was undertaken to compare Ehrlichia strains from Thailand to strains originating from the United States. Partial DNA sequence analysis confirmed infection with E canis and E platys, with identical 16S rRNA sequence alignment to E canis (U26740) and to E platys (M83801), as reported in GenBank. Partial E canis P28.1 and P28.2 amino acid sequences from Thai dogs were divergent from analogous sequences derived from North American E canis (AF082744) strains, suggesting that the Thai dogs were infected with a geographically distinct strain of E canis compared to North American strains. The results of this study indicate that dogs in Thailand have substantial exposure to vectorborne diseases and that coinfection with these pathogens may be common.

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