Anaplasma infection in free-ranging Iberian red deer in the region of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

José De La Fuente, Joaquín Vicente, Ursula Höfle, Francisco Ruiz-Fons, Isabel G Fernández De Mera, Ronald A Van Den Bussche, Katherine M Kocan, Christian Gortazar
Veterinary Microbiology 2004 June 3, 100 (3): 163-73
Organisms in the genus Anaplasma are obligate intracellular pathogens that multiply in both vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. The type species, Anaplasma marginale, causes bovine anaplasmosis and infects erythrocytes of the vertebrate host and undergoes a complex developmental cycle in ticks which serve as biological vectors. Infected cattle, wild ruminants and ticks can all serve as reservoirs of A. marginale. In this study, hunter killed Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) from the region of Castilla-La Mancha in southwestern Spain were tested for Anaplasma infection. We found that 10% of the deer examined were seropositive for Anaplasma. Three A. marginale strains were subsequently obtained from salivary glands of Hyalomma marginatum that were removed from these deer, and the sequence of the major surface protein (msp)4 gene was determined for each strain and used for phylogenetic studies. Maximum parsimony analyses of msp4 sequences from H. marginatum ticks in comparison with New World cattle and bison isolates reported previously, suggested different origins for these Spanish A. marginale strains. The results of this study demonstrated that Iberian red deer are naturally infected with Anaplasma, and may therefore serve as a wildlife reservoir of the pathogen. Although the link between deer infection and the strains of A. marginale identified in ticks was not established, H. marginatum and Rhipicephalus bursa were identified as potential biological vectors for A. marginale in this region and may effect transmission of A. marginale between deer and cattle populations.

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