Gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) as a potential reservoir of a Bartonella clarridgeiae-like bacterium and domestic dogs as part of a sentinel system for surveillance of zoonotic arthropod-borne pathogens in northern California

Jennifer B Henn, Mourad W Gabriel, Rickie W Kasten, Richard N Brown, Jerold H Theis, Janet E Foley, Bruno B Chomel
Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2007, 45 (8): 2411-8
Two species of Bartonella, a novel Bartonella clarridgeiae-like bacterium and B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii, were isolated from rural dogs and gray foxes in northern California. A novel B. clarridgeiae-like species was isolated from 3 (1.7%) of 182 dogs and 22 (42%) of 53 gray foxes, while B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii was isolated from 1 dog (0.5%) and 5 gray foxes (9.4%). PCR and DNA sequence analyses of the citrate synthase (gltA) gene and the 16S-23S intergenic spacer region suggested that strains infecting dogs and gray foxes were identical. Fifty-four dogs (29%) and 48 gray foxes (89%) had reciprocal titers of antibodies against Bartonella spp. of > or =64. The high prevalence of bacteremia and seroreactivity to Bartonella spp. in gray foxes suggests that they may act as a reservoir species for the B. clarridgeiae-like species in this region. Domestic dogs were also tested for other arthropod-borne infectious agents. Fifty-one dogs (28%) were positive for Dirofilaria immitis antigen, seventy-four (40%) were seroreactive to Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and five (2.7%) were seropositive for Yersinia pestis. Fourteen dogs (7.6%) were PCR positive for A. phagocytophilum. Polytomous logistic regression models were used to assess the association of Bartonella antibody titer categories with potential risk factors and the presence of other vector-borne agents in domestic dogs. Older dogs were more likely to be seroreactive to Bartonella spp. There was no association between the exposure of dogs to Bartonella and the exposure of dogs to A. phagocytophilum in this study.

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