Susceptibility of cattle to infection with Ehrlichia equi and the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis

Nicola Pusterla Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

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Randall J. Anderson California Department of Food and Agriculture, Animal Health Branch, 1220 N St, Rm A-107, Sacramento, CA 95814.

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 DVM, MPVM
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John K. House Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

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 BVMS, PhD, DACVIM
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Jeannine Berger Pusterla Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

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Elfriede DeRock Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

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John E. Madigan Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

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 DVM, MS, DACVIM

Abstract

Objective—To determine susceptibility of cattle to infection with Ehrlichia equi and the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE).

Design—Experimental disease and prevalence survey.

Animals—6 cattle, 2 horses, and 2,725 serum samples from healthy cattle.

Procedure—2 cattle and 1 horse were inoculated with E equi, 2 cattle and 1 horse were inoculated with the HGE agent, and 2 cattle served as sham-inoculated controls; inoculated animals were evaluated via clinical, hematologic, serologic, and real-time polymerase chain reaction tests. Prevalence of antibodies against E equi in 2,725 healthy cattle was determined by use of an indirect immunofluorescent technique.

Results—No abnormal clinical or hematologic findings or inclusion bodies within granulocytes were observed in the cattle after inoculation, and results of all polymerase chain reaction tests were negative. Seroconversion in inoculated cattle developed 10 to 12 days after inoculation (reciprocal titers, 160). Both horses developed clinical signs of ehrlichiosis. Five of 2,725 (0.18%) cattle were seropositive for E equi, with titers ranging from 20 to 80. All seropositive cattle originated from the same tick-rich region in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that cattle are not susceptible to infection with E equi or the agent of HGE and that prevalence of exposure to E equi in healthy cattle is low. Therefore, E equi and the agent of HGE are likely of negligible importance for cattle in North America. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:1160–1162)

Abstract

Objective—To determine susceptibility of cattle to infection with Ehrlichia equi and the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE).

Design—Experimental disease and prevalence survey.

Animals—6 cattle, 2 horses, and 2,725 serum samples from healthy cattle.

Procedure—2 cattle and 1 horse were inoculated with E equi, 2 cattle and 1 horse were inoculated with the HGE agent, and 2 cattle served as sham-inoculated controls; inoculated animals were evaluated via clinical, hematologic, serologic, and real-time polymerase chain reaction tests. Prevalence of antibodies against E equi in 2,725 healthy cattle was determined by use of an indirect immunofluorescent technique.

Results—No abnormal clinical or hematologic findings or inclusion bodies within granulocytes were observed in the cattle after inoculation, and results of all polymerase chain reaction tests were negative. Seroconversion in inoculated cattle developed 10 to 12 days after inoculation (reciprocal titers, 160). Both horses developed clinical signs of ehrlichiosis. Five of 2,725 (0.18%) cattle were seropositive for E equi, with titers ranging from 20 to 80. All seropositive cattle originated from the same tick-rich region in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that cattle are not susceptible to infection with E equi or the agent of HGE and that prevalence of exposure to E equi in healthy cattle is low. Therefore, E equi and the agent of HGE are likely of negligible importance for cattle in North America. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:1160–1162)

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