Infection rates of Amblyomma americanum and Dermacentor variabilis by Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii in southwest Missouri

John G Steiert, Felicia Gilfoy
Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 2002, 2 (2): 53-60
Both Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii are causative agents of human ehrlichiosis. Both pathogens are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum). Since Missouri has a high incidence of human monocytic ehrlichiosis, we investigated the prevalence of E. chaffeensis- and E. ewingii-infected A. americanum and Dermacentor variabilis (American dog tick) ticks to help assess the relative risk for humans exposed to these vectors. We used a nested polymerase chain reaction assay for the detection of ehrlichial DNA in the collected ticks. Infection rates for both ehrlichial species were calculated from the assay results for each of the tick species. E. chaffeensis was found to be present in 9.8% of adult A. americanum ticks (57 of 579) and 6.7% of D. variabilis ticks (eight of 120). E. ewingii DNA was present at an infection rate of 5.4% in adult A. americanum (31 of 579) and 3.3% of D. variabilis ticks (four of 120). A minimum infection rate for nymph pools of A. americanum was 1.7% for E. chaffeensis and 0.6% for E. ewingii.

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