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1.  Efficacy of a Doxycycline Treatment Regimen Initiated during Three Different Phases of Experimental Ehrlichiosis ▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2010;54(12):5012-5020.
Doxycycline is the treatment of choice for canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME), a well-characterized disease and valuable model for tick-borne zoonoses. Conflicting reports of clearance of Ehrlichia canis after treatment with doxycycline suggested that the disease phase during which treatment is initiated influences outcomes of these treatments. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a 28-day doxycycline regimen for clearance of experimental E. canis infections from dogs treated during three phases of the disease. Ten dogs were inoculated with blood from E. canis carriers and treated with doxycycline during acute, subclinical, or chronic phases of CME. Daily rectal temperatures and semiweekly blood samples were monitored from each dog, and Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks were acquisition fed on each dog for xenodiagnosis. Blood collected from dogs treated during acute or subclinical CME became PCR negative for E. canis as clinical parameters improved, but blood samples collected from dogs treated during chronic CME remained intermittently PCR positive. R. sanguineus ticks fed on dogs after doxycycline treatments became PCR positive for E. canis, regardless of when treatment was initiated. However, fewer ticks became PCR positive after feeding on two persistently infected dogs treated with doxycycline followed by rifampin, suggesting that antibiotic therapy can reduce tick acquisition of E. canis.
PMCID: PMC2981254  PMID: 20921310
2.  Reisolation of Ehrlichia canis from blood and tissues of dogs after doxycycline treatment. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1994;32(7):1644-1649.
We present evidence that supports the carrier status of dogs experimentally infected with Ehrlichia canis after treatment with doxycycline. Canine ehrlichiosis was induced in five dogs by intravenous inoculation with E. canis-infected DH82 cells. All animals developed mild clinical signs of transient fever, body weight loss, thrombocytopenia, and increased gamma globulin levels in plasma. An indirect fluorescent-antibody test (IFA) revealed that all dogs had seroconverted (titer, 5,120) by day 10 postinoculation (p.i.). E. canis was reisolated from blood samples collected at intervals throughout the 2-month period p.i. Doxycycline was administered orally once daily at 10 mg/kg of body weight per day for 1 week starting at 2 months p.i. Following treatment, gamma globulin levels in plasma were decreased. At necropsy on days 54 to 59 after the start of treatment, spleen, liver, kidney, and lymph nodes were collected for E. canis culture and histopathologic examination. Although the dogs did not show significant clinical signs during or after treatment with the antibiotic, E. canis was reisolated from the blood and tissue samples of three of five dogs. A 16-fold reduction in IFA titer was noted in two dogs which were negative for E. canis reisolation at day 49 after the start of treatment, whereas a zero- to fourfold reduction in IFA titer was seen in the remaining three dogs. Western immunoblot reactions to higher-molecular-size E. canis antigens in the sera of two dogs which were negative for E. canis on blood culture decreased, whereas they remained continuously high or only transiently decreased for the duration of the study for antigens in the sera of three dogs from which E. canis was reisolated. Histopathologically, prominent plasmacytosis in the kidney cortex was present in three dogs from which E. canis was reisolated, whereas the kidney cortices of two dogs had moderate to minor plasmacytosis. These findings pose questions regarding the efficacy, dosage and duration of doxycycline treatment in dogs with E. canis infection. In addition, it was shown that IFA and Western immunoblotting may aid in assessing the efficacy of antibiotic therapy when definitive reisolation procedures are not readily available.
PMCID: PMC263749  PMID: 7929751
3.  Amplification of Ehrlichial DNA from Dogs 34 Months after Infection with Ehrlichia canis 
In order to determine whether dogs in the subclinical phase of canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME) are carriers of Ehrlichia canis and to determine the significance of persistent indirect immunofluorescent anti-E. canis antibody titers during this phase, PCR was performed with blood, bone marrow, and splenic aspirates collected 34 months postinoculation from six clinically healthy beagle dogs experimentally infected with E. canis. At least one of the three samples (spleen, bone marrow, and blood) from four of the six dogs was PCR positive. The spleens of all four of these dogs were PCR positive, and the bone marrow and blood of two of the four dogs were PCR positive. Indirect immunofluorescent-antibody titers increased progressively during the first 5 months postinfection, remained high for an additional period of more than 11 months, and declined thereafter, suggesting that the dogs were recovering from the disease. Five of the dogs remained seropositive 34 months postinfection. The data obtained in this study demonstrate for the first time that clinically healthy dogs in the subclinical phase of CME are carriers of the rickettsia. It was shown that dogs can harbor E. canis for years without developing the chronic clinical disease and that dogs can eliminate the parasite and recover from CME without medical treatment. Our findings suggest that the spleen is the organ most likely to harbor E. canis parasites during the subclinical phase and the last organ to accommodate the parasite before elimination. It was concluded that PCR of DNA extracted from splenic aspirates is a reliable method for determining the carrier state of CME.
PMCID: PMC124810  PMID: 9431923
4.  Doxycycline Hyclate Treatment of Experimental Canine Ehrlichiosis Followed by Challenge Inoculation with Two Ehrlichia canis Strains 
Dogs were experimentally inoculated with Ehrlichia canis Florida to assess the efficacy of doxycycline hyclate for the treatment of acute ehrlichiosis. Treatment with doxycycline eliminated infection in eight of eight dogs. Untreated infected control dogs appeared to eliminate the infection or, alternatively, suppress the degree of ehrlichiemia to a level not detectable by tissue culture isolation or PCR or by transfusion of blood into recipient dogs. Prior infection did not infer protection against homologous (strain Florida) or heterologous (strain NCSU Jake) strains of E. canis. We conclude that doxycycline hyclate is an effective treatment for acute E. canis infection; however, these results may not be applicable to chronic infections in nature. Spontaneous resolution of infection, induced by the dog’s innate immune response, provides evidence that an E. canis vaccine, once developed, might potentially confer protective immunity against the organism.
PMCID: PMC105415  PMID: 9527787
5.  Comparison of PCR with other tests for early diagnosis of canine ehrlichiosis. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1994;32(7):1658-1662.
The purpose of the study was to compare the sensitivity of PCR with those of cell culture reisolation of Ehrlichia canis, the indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFA), and Western immunoblotting (WI) in the early diagnosis of canine ehrlichiosis. Five German shepherd dogs were intravenously inoculated with 10(7) E. canis-infected DH82 cells. Blood was collected on alternate days during a 2-week postinoculation period. Mononuclear cell fractions were harvested and used for E. canis reisolation and DNA extraction for PCR. The plasma was used for assaying antibodies against E. canis. By PCR, the 16S rRNA gene of E. canis was detected in the mononuclear cell specimens collected as early as day 4 to 10 postexposure (PE). E. canis was reisolated from the blood starting on day 2 PE from all five dogs. The indirect fluorescent antibody test and Western immunoblotting could detect E. canis antibodies as early as 2 to 8 days PE. Cell culture reisolation proved to be the most sensitive and definitive for early diagnosis of ehrlichiosis, but it is not very convenient, since it takes a long time (14 to 34 days) to show up positive. The sensitivity of PCR is comparable to or slightly less than that of other established methods; however, the convenience, quickness, and direct nature of detecting E. canis DNA is expected to make PCR more useful for clinical diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC263754  PMID: 7929754
6.  Experimental infection and co-infection of dogs with Anaplasma platys and Ehrlichia canis: hematologic, serologic and molecular findings 
Parasites & Vectors  2010;3:33.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus is a ubiquitous tick responsible for transmitting Ehrlichia canis and most likely Anaplasma platys to dogs, as either single or co-infections. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of either simultaneous or sequential experimental infections with E. canis and A. platys on hematological and serological parameters, duration of infection, and efficacy of doxycycline therapy in dogs infected with one or both organisms. Six dogs per group were either uninfected, A. platys infected, E. canis infected, A. platys and E. canis co-infected, A. platys infected and E. canis challenged or E. canis infected and A. platys challenged at day 112 post-infection (PI). Doxycycline treatment was initiated at 211 days PI, followed by dexamethasone immunosuppression beginning 410 days PI.
Initially, transient decreases in hematocrit occurred in all groups infected with E. canis, but the mean hematocrit was significantly lower in the A. platys and E. canis co-infected group. All dogs except the controls developed marked thrombocytopenia after initial infection followed by gradually increased platelet counts by 112 days PI in groups with the single infections, while platelet counts remained significantly lower in the A. platys and E. canis co-infected group. Both sequential and simultaneous infections of A. platys and E. canis produced an enhanced humoral immune response to A. platys when compared to infection with A. platys alone. Likewise, co-infection with E. canis and A. platys resulted in a more persistent A. platys infection compared to dogs infected with A. platys only, but nearly all A. platys infected dogs became A. platys PCR negative prior to doxycycline treatment. E. canis infected dogs, whether single or co-infected, remained thrombocytopenic and E. canis PCR positive in blood for 420 days. When treated with doxycycline, all E. canis infected dogs became E. canis PCR negative and the thrombocytopenia resolved. Despite immunosuppression, neither A. platys nor E. canis DNA was PCR amplified from doxycycline-treated dogs.
The results of this study demonstrate that simultaneous or sequential infection with A. platys and E. canis can alter various pathophysiological parameters in experimentally infected dogs, and because natural exposure to multiple tick-borne pathogens occurs frequently in dogs, awareness of co-infection is important in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC2859368  PMID: 20377870
7.  Molecular and Antigenic Comparison of Ehrlichia canis Isolates from Dogs, Ticks, and a Human in Venezuela 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(8):2788-2793.
We previously culture isolated a strain of Ehrlichia canis, the causative agent of canine ehrlichiosis, from a human in Venezuela. In the present study, we examined whether dogs and ticks are infected with E. canis in Venezuela and, if so, whether this is the same strain as the human isolate. PCR analysis using E. canis-specific primers revealed that 17 of the 55 dog blood samples (31%) and all three pools of four Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks each were positive. An ehrlichial agent (Venezuelan dog Ehrlichia [VDE]) was isolated and propagated in cell culture from one dog sample and was further analyzed to determine its molecular and antigenic characteristics. The 16S rRNA 1,408-bp sequence of the new VDE isolate was identical to that of the previously reported Venezuelan human Ehrlichia isolate (VHE) and was closely related (99.9%) to that of E. canis Oklahoma. The 5′ (333-bp) and 3′ (653-bp) sequences of the variable regions of the 16S rRNA genes from six additional E. canis-positive dog blood specimens and from three pooled-tick specimens were also identical to those of VHE. Western blot analysis of serum samples from three dogs infected with VDE by using several ehrlichial antigens revealed that the antigenic profile of the VDE was similar to the profiles of VHE and E. canis Oklahoma. Identical 16S rRNA gene sequences among ehrlichial organisms from dogs, ticks, and a human in the same geographic region in Venezuela and similar antigenic profiles between the dog and human isolates suggest that dogs serve as a reservoir of human E. canis infection and that R. sanguineus, which occasionally bites humans residing or traveling in this region, serves as a vector. This is the first report of culture isolation and antigenic characterization of an ehrlichial agent from a dog in South America, as well as the first molecular characterization of E. canis directly from naturally infected ticks.
PMCID: PMC88240  PMID: 11473993
8.  Canine babesiosis in northern Portugal and molecular characterization of vector-borne co-infections 
Parasites & Vectors  2010;3:27.
Protozoa and bacteria transmitted by arthropods, including ticks and phlebotomine sand flies, may cause a wide range of canine vector-borne diseases. Dogs can be simultaneously or sequentially infected with multiple pathogens. Canine babesiosis caused by Babesia canis canis and Babesia canis vogeli is known to occur in Portugal. This study assessed, by means of blood smear examination, PCR and DNA nucleotide sequencing, the presence of Babesia spp. and co-infecting agents Leishmania, Anaplasma/Ehrlichia and Hepatozoon in 45 dogs from northern Portugal clinically suspected of babesiosis.
Forty-four dogs (98%) had infection with B. canis canis and one with B. canis vogeli. Co-infections were detected in nine animals (20%). Eight dogs were found infected with two vector-borne agents: six with B. canis canis and Leishmania infantum; one with B. canis canis and Ehrlichia canis; and one with B. canis canis and Hepatozoon canis. Another dog was infected with three vector-borne pathogens: B. canis vogeli, E. canis and L. infantum. Overall, L. infantum was found in seven (16%), E. canis in two (4%), and H. canis in one (2%) out of the 45 dogs with babesiosis. Almost 90% of the 45 cases of canine babesiosis were diagnosed in the colder months of October (18%), November (27%), December (20%), February (13%) and March (9%). Co-infections were detected in February, March, April, May, October and November. Twenty-two (50%) out of 44 dogs infected with B. canis were found infested by ticks including Dermacentor spp., Ixodes spp. and Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Mortality (9%) included two co-infected dogs that died spontaneously and two with single infections that were euthanized.
Babesia canis canis is the main etiological agent of canine babesiosis in northern Portugal. A higher sensitivity of Babesia spp. detection was obtained with PCR assays, compared to the observation of blood smears. Twenty percent of the dogs were co-infected with L. infantum, E. canis or H. canis. Furthermore, this is the first molecular identification of H. canis in dogs from northern Portugal.
PMCID: PMC2865458  PMID: 20377861
9.  Isolation of Ehrlichia canis from dogs following subcutaneous inoculation. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1996;34(6):1429-1432.
Subcutaneous inoculation of dogs with Ehrlichia canis was investigated as a more appropriate model of canine ehrlichiosis, which is naturally transmitted by arthropod vectors. A dose-dependent response occurred following subcutaneous inoculation of seven groups of dogs with log concentrations of E. canis-infected canine-origin cells. Ehrlichial infection in dogs was defined as concurrence of an increased titer of anti-E. canis immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody in serum, a decreased platelet concentration, and isolation of E. canis by blood culture. In dogs administered the two lowest doses, no changes were detected. In seven of nine dogs administered three intermediate doses, the only change detected was a transient and mild increase in the anti-E. canis IgG antibody titer in serum. Only two of nine dogs inoculated with the intermediate doses developed an ehrlichial infection. Five of six dogs administered the two highest dose of E. canis developed an ehrlichial infection. These dogs had the highest IgG antibody titers in serum and the earliest isolation of E. canis from blood. In dogs that developed an ehrlichial infection, thrombocytopenia occurred by 28 days after inoculation, while increased IgG antibody titers in serum and blood cultures positive for E. canis occurred as early as 14 days postinoculation. Thrombocytopenia and seroconversion occurred later in the course of infection than previously reported for ehrlichial infections induced by intravenous inoculation. The route of administration and E. canis inoculum size can influence the course of ehrlichial infection and should be regarded as important variables in experimentally induced canine ehrlichiosis.
PMCID: PMC229037  PMID: 8735093
10.  Clinical and hematological study of canine Ehrlichiosis with other hemoprotozoan parasites in Kolkata, West Bengal, India 
To observe other hemoprotozoan diseases with canine ehrlichiosis and to evaluate the clinical and hematological aspects of dogs naturally infected with ehrlichiosis with other hemoprotozoan diseases.
Blood was collected for hematological value and Giemsa stained blood smear was made for diagnosis of Ehrlichia sp. and other hemoprotozoan parasites from naturally infected dogs. Case history was taken from the owner and clinical signs and symptoms were noted.
A total of 47 cases of ehrlichiosis in dogs were reported with babesiosis (8.51%) and hepatozoonosis (6.38%) hemoprotozoan diseases. Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia ewingii, Brucella canis, Babesia gibsoni and Hepatozoon canis were observed under oil immersion lense of microscope in Giemsa stained peripheral blood smears. Marked anaemia and neutrophilic leukocytosis were observed.
The results of this study stated that clinical and haematological changes occurred in canine ehrlichiosis with babesiosis and hepatozoonosis due to parasitemia. In mixed infection, the disease more severe, and also it depended on immunity of animals. Babesia gibsoni and Hepatozoon canis with Ehrlichia sp. were first reported from West Bengal state of India by this study.
PMCID: PMC3793166
Canine, Clinical; Ehrlichiosis; Hematological; Hemoprotozoan; Kolkata
11.  Therapeutic Effect of Doxycycline in Experimental Subclinical Canine Monocytic Ehrlichiosis: Evaluation of a 6-Week Course 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1998;36(7):2140-2142.
The efficacy of doxycycline treatment (10 mg/kg of body weight every 24 h for 42 days) in eliminating Ehrlichia canis from four subclinically infected dogs was evaluated. One dog remained PCR positive, suggesting that 6 weeks of doxycycline treatment may not be sufficient to clear E. canis parasites from all subclinically infected dogs. Serology (indirect immunofluorescent antibody assay) was shown to be unreliable in assessing recovery from the carrier state, as anti-E. canis antibodies persisted after elimination of the parasite. Our findings suggest that an increase in the platelet count may be an important indicator for dogs that recover from subclinical ehrlichiosis.
PMCID: PMC105010  PMID: 9650986
12.  Western immunoblot analysis of Ehrlichia chaffeensis, E. canis, or E. ewingii infections in dogs and humans. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1994;32(9):2107-2112.
Ehrlichia chaffeensis, E. canis, and E. ewingii are genetically closely related, as determined by 16S rRNA gene base sequence comparison, but they exhibit biologic differences. E. chaffeensis is the etiologic agent of human ehrlichiosis. E. canis and E. ewingii cause two distinctly different forms of canine ehrlichiosis and infect different types of leukocytes, monocytes and granulocytes, respectively. E. chaffeensis can also infect dogs. In the study, Western immunoblot analysis of sera from dogs inoculated with E. chaffeensis, E. canis, or E. ewingii was performed to determine antigenic specificity and the intensities of the reactions to purified E. chaffeensis and E. canis antigens. At 2 to 3 weeks postexposure, antisera from four dogs inoculated with E. chaffeensis reacted with 64-, 47-, 31-, and 29-kDa proteins of E. chaffeensis but reacted poorly with E. canis antigen. In contrast, at 2 to 3 weeks postexposure, antisera from four E. canis-inoculated dogs reacted strongly with the 30-kDa major antigen of E. canis but reacted poorly with proteins from E. chaffeensis. At 4 weeks postexposure, the sera from three E. ewingii-inoculated dogs showed weak binding to 64- and 47-kDa proteins of both E. chaffeensis and E. canis. Convalescent-phase sera from human ehrlichiosis patients and sera from dogs chronically infected with E. ewingii strongly reacted with similar sets of proteins of E. chaffeensis and E. canis with similar intensities. However, sera from dogs chronically infected with E. canis reacted more strongly with a greater number of E. canis proteins than with E. chaffeensis proteins. The protein specificity described in the report suggests that dogs with E. canis infections can be distinguished from E. chaffeensis-infected animals by Western immunoblot analysis with both E. canis and E. chaffeensis antigens.
PMCID: PMC263951  PMID: 7814533
13.  Prevalence of Dirofilaria immitis, Ehrlichia canis, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Anaplasma spp. and Leishmania infantum in apparently healthy and CVBD-suspect dogs in Portugal - a national serological study 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:62.
Canine vector-borne diseases (CVBDs) are caused by a wide range of pathogens transmitted to dogs by arthropods including ticks and insects. Many CVBD-agents are of zoonotic concern, with dogs potentially serving as reservoirs and sentinels for human infections. The present study aimed at assessing the seroprevalence of infection with or exposure to Dirofilaria immitis, Ehrlichia canis, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Anaplasma spp. and Leishmania infantum in dogs in Portugal.
Based on 120 veterinary medical centres from all the regions of mainland and insular Portugal, 557 apparently healthy and 628 CVBD-suspect dogs were sampled. Serum, plasma or whole blood was tested for qualitative detection of D. immitis antigen and antibodies to E. canis, B. burgdorferi s. l., Anaplasma spp. and L. infantum with two commercial in-clinic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated by logistic regression analysis to identify independent risk factors of exposure to the vector-borne agents.
Total positivity levels to D. immitis, E. canis, B. burgdorferi, Anaplasma spp., L. infantum, one or more agents and mixed agents were 3.6%, 4.1%, 0.2%, 4.5%, 4.3%, 14.0% and 2.0% in the healthy group, and 8.9%, 16.4%, 0.5%, 9.2%, 25.2%, 46.3% and 11.6% in the clinically suspect group, respectively. Non-use of ectoparasiticides was a risk factor for positivity to one or more agents both in the apparently healthy (OR = 2.1) and CVBD-suspect (OR = 1.5) dogs. Seropositivity to L. infantum (OR = 7.6), E. canis (OR = 4.1) and D. immitis (OR = 2.4) were identified as risk factors for the presence of clinical signs compatible with CVBDs. Positivity to mixed agents was not found to be a risk factor for disease.
Dogs in Portugal are at risk of becoming infected with vector-borne pathogens, some of which are of zoonotic concern. CVBDs should be considered by practitioners and prophylactic measures must be put in place to protect dogs and limit the risk of transmission of vector-borne agents to humans. This study is expected to give veterinary and public health authorities an increased awareness about CVBDs in Portugal and to serve as a reference for future investigations and control actions.
PMCID: PMC3353209  PMID: 22452990
Anaplasma spp.; Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato; Canine Vector-Borne Diseases; Dogs; Dirofilaria immitis; Ehrlichia canis; Epidemiology; In-Clinic ELISA Tests; Leishmania infantum; Portugal
14.  Seroprevalence of Ehrlichia canis and of Canine Granulocytic Ehrlichia Infection in Dogs in Switzerland 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1998;36(12):3460-3462.
Serum samples from 996 dogs in Switzerland were examined for antibodies to Ehrlichia canis and to the agent causing canine granulocytic ehrlichiosis (CGE). Ehrlichiosis, borreliosis, and systemic illness not associated with ticks were suspected in 75, 122, and 157 of these dogs, respectively. The remainder of the serum samples were obtained from clinically healthy dogs which resided north (n = 235) or south (n = 407) of the Alps. The serum samples were tested by an indirect immunofluorescence technique for antibodies to the two agents incriminated, E. canis and Ehrlichia phagocytophila, a surrogate marker of the agent of CGE. Twenty-two of 996 (2.2%) serum samples had antibodies to E. canis and were distributed as follows: 20 of 75 (26.7%) samples from dogs suspected of having ehrlichiosis, 1 of 122 (0.8%) from dogs suspected of having borreliosis, and 1 of 407 (0.2%) from healthy dogs which resided south of the Alps. Of the 75 (7.5%) serum samples that had antibodies to E. phagocytophila, significantly more samples were from ill dogs than from healthy dogs. Among the sera from healthy dogs, antibodies to E. phagocytophila were significantly more prevalent in the north. Because seropositive dogs had a history of travel outside Switzerland and because Rhipicephalus sanguineus is found exclusively south of the Alps, it was presumed that, in contrast to the agent of CGE, E. canis is not indigenous to Switzerland.
PMCID: PMC105221  PMID: 9817854
15.  Transcriptional Analysis of p30 Major Outer Membrane Multigene Family of Ehrlichia canis in Dogs, Ticks, and Cell Culture at Different Temperatures 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(10):6172-6178.
Ehrlichia canis, an obligatory intracellular bacterium of monocytes and macrophages, causes canine monocytic ehrlichiosis. E. canis immunodominant 30-kDa major outer membrane proteins are encoded by a polymorphic multigene family consisting of more than 20 paralogs. In the present study, we analyzed the mRNA expression of 14 paralogs in experimentally infected dogs and Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks by reverse transcription-PCR using gene-specific primers followed by Southern blotting. Eleven out of 14 paralogs in E. canis were transcribed in increasing numbers and transcription levels, while the mRNA expression of the 3 remaining paralogs was not detected in blood monocytes of infected dogs during the 56-day postinoculation period. Three different groups of R. sanguineus ticks (adult males and females and nymphs) were separately infected with E. canis by feeding on the infected dogs. In these pools of acquisition-fed ticks as well as in the transmission-fed adult ticks, the transcript from only one paralog was detected, suggesting the predominant transcription of that paralog or the suppression of the remaining paralogs in ticks. Expression of the same paralog was higher whereas expression of the remaining paralogs was lower in E. canis cultivated in dog monocyte cell line DH82 at 25°C than in E. canis cultivated at 37°C. Analysis of differential expression of p30 multigenes in dogs, ticks, or monocyte cell cultures would help in understanding the role of these gene products in pathogenesis and E. canis transmission as well as in designing a rational vaccine candidate immunogenic against canine ehrlichiosis.
PMCID: PMC98748  PMID: 11553557
16.  Exposure to infectious agents in dogs in remote coastal British Columbia: Possible sentinels of diseases in wildlife and humans 
Ranked among the top threats to conservation worldwide, infectious disease is of particular concern for wild canids because domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) may serve as sources and reservoirs of infection. On British Columbia’s largely undeveloped but rapidly changing central and north coasts, little is known about diseases in wolves (Canis lupus) or other wildlife. However, several threats exist for transfer of diseases among unvaccinated dogs and wolves. To gain baseline data on infectious agents in this area, including those with zoonotic potential, we collected blood and stool samples from 107 dogs in 5 remote communities in May and September 2007. Serology revealed that the dogs had been exposed to canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine respiratory coronavirus, and Leptospira interrogans. No dogs showed evidence of exposure to Ehrlichia canis, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi, Dirofilaria immitis, or Cryptococcus gattii. Of 75 stool samples, 31 contained at least 1 parasitic infection, including Taeniid tapeworms, the nematodes Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina, and the protozoans Isospora sp., Giardia sp., Cryptosporidium sp., and Sarcocystis sp. This work provides a sound baseline for future monitoring of infectious agents that could affect dogs, sympatric wild canids, other wildlife, and humans.
PMCID: PMC3003557  PMID: 21461190
17.  Sequential Evaluation of Dogs Naturally Infected with Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Ehrlichia equi, Ehrlichia ewingii, or Bartonella vinsonii 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1998;36(9):2645-2651.
Historically, disease manifestations in dogs seroreactive to Ehrlichia canis antigens by indirect immunofluorescent antibody testing have been attributed to infection with either E. canis or Ehrlichia ewingii. A 1996 study by Dawson and colleagues provided PCR evidence that healthy dogs from southeastern Virginia could be naturally infected with Ehrlichia chaffeensis. This observation stimulated us to determine which Ehrlichia spp. infected sick dogs that were referred to our hospital from the same region. Based upon PCR amplification with species-specific primers, sick dogs seroreactive to E. canis antigens were determined to be infected with four Ehrlichia species: E. canis, E. chaffeensis, E. equi, and E. ewingii. Coinfection with three Ehrlichia species (E. canis, E. ewingii, and E. equi) was documented for one dog. An additional canine pathogen presumed to be tick transmitted, Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii, was identified in 7 of 12 dogs. Importantly, our results indicate that in naturally infected dogs, E. chaffeensis can cause severe disease manifestations that are clinically and serologically indistinguishable from disease manifestations of E. canis or E. ewingii. In addition, our findings support the efficacy of doxycycline for treatment of E. canis, E. equi, and E. ewingii infections but indicate that, based upon the persistence of E. chaffeensis DNA for 1 year following treatment, E. chaffeensis infection in dogs may be more refractory to doxycycline treatment. Undetected coinfection with Bartonella may also complicate the evaluation of treatment efficacy while resulting in disease manifestations that mimic ehrlichiosis.
PMCID: PMC105178  PMID: 9705408
18.  Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis and Hepatozoonosis in Dogs from St. Kitts, West Indies 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53450.
Although tick-borne diseases are important causes of morbidity and mortality in dogs in tropical areas, there is little information on the agents causing these infections in the Caribbean.
We used PCRs to test blood from a cross-section of dogs on St Kitts for Ehrlichia (E.) canis, Babesia (B.) spp., Anaplasma (A.) spp. and Hepatozoon (H.) spp. Antibodies against E. canis and A. phagocytophilum/platys were detected using commercial immunochromatography tests. Records of the dogs were examined retrospectively to obtain clinical and laboratory data.
Principal findings
There was serological and/or PCR evidence of infections of dogs with E. canis (27%; 46/170), Babesia spp. (24%; 90/372) including B. canis vogeli (12%; 43/372) and B. gibsoni (10%; 36/372), A. platys (11%; 17/157) and H. canis (6%; 15/266). We could not identify the Babesia sp. detected in nine dogs. There was evidence of multiple infections with dual infections with E. canis and B. canis vogeli (8%; 14/179) or B. gibsoni (7%; 11/170) being the most common. There was agreement between immunochromatography and PCR test results for E. canis for 87% of dogs. Only 13% of exposed dogs had signs of a tick-borne disease and 38% had laboratory abnormalities. All 10 dogs presenting for a recheck after treatment of E. canis with doxycycline were apparently healthy although all remained seropositive and six still had laboratory abnormalities despite an average of two treatments with the most recent being around 12 months previously. Infections with Babesia spp. were also mainly subclinical with only 6% (4/67) showing clinical signs and 13% (9/67) having laboratory abnormalities. Similarly, animals with evidence of infections with A. platys and H. canis were largely apparently healthy with only occasional laboratory abnormalities.
Dogs are commonly infected with tick-borne pathogens in the Caribbean with most having no clinical signs or laboratory abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3546050  PMID: 23335965
19.  Rickettsiae and Borrelia burgdorferi in ixodid ticks. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1991;29(12):2798-2804.
Nymphs and adults of hard-bodied ticks were collected in Connecticut and tested by direct and indirect immunofluorescence staining methods for rickettsiae and Borrelia burgdorferi. Of the 609 Ixodes dammini ticks examined, 59 (9.7%) harbored rickettsialike microorganisms in hemocytes (blood cells). These bacteria reacted with fluorescein-conjugated antiserum to Ehrlichia canis, the etiologic agent of with fluorescein-conjugated antiserum to Ehrlichia canis, the etiologic agent of canine ehrlichiosis. Prevalence of infection ranged from 6.8 to 12.7% for males and females, respectively. Although the specific identities of the hemocytic rickettsialike organisms are unknown, they share antigens with ehrlichiae. Electron microscopy revealed rickettsiae in ovarian tissues of I. dammini that also had infected hemocytes. Rickettsialike organisms were also observed in the hemocytes of 5 (6.9%) of 73 Dermacentor variabilis ticks. In analyses for B. burgdorferi, 146 (23.7%) of 617 I. dammini ticks harbored these spirochetes in midguts. Hemocytic rickettsialike microorganisms coexisted with B. burgdorferi in 36 (6.7%) of the 537 nymphs and adults of I. dammini examined. I. dammini, with its broad host range, has the potential to acquire multiple microorganisms.
PMCID: PMC270436  PMID: 1757551
20.  Cloning and Characterization of Multigenes Encoding the Immunodominant 30-Kilodalton Major Outer Membrane Proteins of Ehrlichia canis and Application of the Recombinant Protein for Serodiagnosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1998;36(9):2671-2680.
A 30-kDa major outer membrane protein of Ehrlichia canis, the agent of canine ehrlichiosis, is the major antigen recognized by both naturally and experimentally infected dog sera. The protein cross-reacts with a serum against a recombinant 28-kDa protein (rP28), one of the outer membrane proteins of a gene (omp-1) family of Ehrlichia chaffeensis. Two DNA fragments of E. canis were amplified by PCR with two primer pairs based on the sequences of E. chaffeensis omp-1 genes, cloned, and sequenced. Each fragment contained a partial 30-kDa protein gene of E. canis. Genomic Southern blot analysis with the partial gene probes revealed the presence of multiple copies of these genes in the E. canis genome. Three copies of the entire gene (p30, p30-1, and p30a) were cloned and sequenced from the E. canis genomic DNA. The open reading frames of the two copies (p30 and p30-1) were tandemly arranged with an intergenic space. The three copies were similar but not identical and contained a semivariable region and three hypervariable regions in the protein molecules. The following genes homologous to three E. canis 30-kDa protein genes and the E. chaffeensis omp-1 family were identified in the closely related rickettsiae: wsp from Wolbachia sp., p44 from the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis, msp-2 and msp-4 from Anaplasma marginale, and map-1 from Cowdria ruminantium. Phylogenetic analysis among the three E. canis 30-kDa proteins and the major surface proteins of the rickettsiae revealed that these proteins are divided into four clusters and the two E. canis 30-kDa proteins are closely related but that the third 30-kDa protein is not. The p30 gene was expressed as a fusion protein, and the antibody to the recombinant protein (rP30) was raised in a mouse. The antibody reacted with rP30 and a 30-kDa protein of purified E. canis. Twenty-nine indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA)-positive dog plasma specimens strongly recognized the rP30 of E. canis. To evaluate whether the rP30 is a suitable antigen for serodiagnosis of canine ehrlichiosis, the immunoreactions between rP30 and the whole purified E. canis antigen were compared in the dot immunoblot assay. Dot reactions of both antigens with IFA-positive dog plasma specimens were clearly distinguishable by the naked eye from those with IFA-negative plasma specimens. By densitometry with a total of 42 IFA-positive and -negative plasma specimens, both antigens produced results similar in sensitivity and specificity. These findings suggest that the rP30 antigen provides a simple, consistent, and rapid serodiagnosis for canine ehrlichiosis. Cloning of multigenes encoding the 30-kDa major outer membrane proteins of E. canis will greatly facilitate understanding pathogenesis and immunologic study of canine ehrlichosis and provide a useful tool for phylogenetic analysis.
PMCID: PMC105182  PMID: 9705412
21.  Tick Acquisition of Ehrlichia canis from Dogs Treated with Doxycycline Hyclate▿  
Doxycycline generally alleviates clinical monocytic ehrlichiosis, but its efficacy in the control of monocytotropic ehrlichial pathogens requires further investigation. In this study, Ehrlichia canis was detected in dogs treated with doxycycline for 14 days and in ticks fed on these dogs, suggesting that treated dogs can remain reservoirs for E. canis.
PMCID: PMC2043173  PMID: 17606682
22.  Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay with Conserved Immunoreactive Glycoproteins gp36 and gp19 Has Enhanced Sensitivity and Provides Species-Specific Immunodiagnosis of Ehrlichia canis Infection▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2006;14(2):123-128.
Ehrlichia canis is the primary etiologic agent of canine monocytic ehrlichiosis, a globally distributed and potentially fatal disease of dogs. We previously reported on the identification of two conserved major immunoreactive antigens, gp36 and gp19, which are the first proteins to elicit an E. canis-specific antibody response, and gp200 and p28, which elicit strong antibody responses later in the acute phase of the infection. In this report, the sensitivities and specificities of five recombinant E. canis proteins for the immunodiagnosis of E. canis infection by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were evaluated. Recombinant polypeptides gp36, gp19, and gp200 (N and C termini) exhibited 100% sensitivity and specificity for immunodiagnosis by the recombinant glycoprotein ELISA compared with the results obtained by an indirect fluorescent-antibody assay (IFA) for the detection of antibodies in dogs that were naturally infected with E. canis. Moreover, the enhanced sensitivities of gp36 and gp19 for immunodiagnosis by the recombinant glycoprotein ELISA compared to those obtained by IFA were demonstrated with dogs experimentally infected with E. canis, in which antibodies were detected as much as 2 weeks earlier, on day 14 postinoculation. gp36 and gp19 were not cross-reactive with antibodies in sera from E. chaffeensis-infected dogs and thus provided species-specific serologic discrimination between E. canis and E. chaffeensis infections. This is the first demonstration of the improved detection capability of the recombinant protein technology compared to the capability of the “gold standard” IFA and may eliminate the remaining obstacles associated with the immunodiagnosis of E. canis infections, including species-specific identification and the lack of sensitivity associated with low antibody titers early in the acute phase of the infection.
PMCID: PMC1797795  PMID: 17151186
23.  Characterization of the Major Antigenic Protein 2 of Ehrlichia canis and Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Its Application for Serodiagnosis of Ehrlichiosis‡  
Canine monocytic ehrlichiosis, caused by Ehrlichia canis or Ehrlichia chaffeensis, can result in clinical disease in naturally infected animals. Coinfections with these agents may be common in certain areas of endemicity. Currently, a species-specific method for serological diagnosis of monocytic ehrlichiosis is not available. Previously, we developed two indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) using the major antigenic protein 2 (MAP2) of E. chaffeensis and E. canis. In this study, we further characterized the conservation of MAP2 among various geographic isolates of each organism and determined if the recombinant MAP2 (rMAP2) of E. chaffeensis would cross-react with E. canis-infected dog sera. Genomic Southern blot analysis using digoxigenin-labeled species-specific probes suggested that map2 is a single-copy gene in both Ehrlichia species. Sequences of the single map2 genes of seven geographically different isolates of E. chaffeensis and five isolates of E. canis are highly conserved among the various isolates of each respective ehrlichial species. ELISA and Western blot analysis confirmed that the E. chaffeensis rMAP2 failed to serologically differentiate between E. canis and E. chaffeensis infections.
PMCID: PMC164268  PMID: 12853379
24.  Transcriptional Analysis of p30 Major Outer Membrane Protein Genes of Ehrlichia canis in Naturally Infected Ticks and Sequence Analysis of p30-10 of E. canis from Diverse Geographic Regions 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(2):886-888.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks transmit Ehrlichia canis, the etiologic agent of canine ehrlichiosis. In experimentally infected ticks, only p30-10 transcript was detected among 22 p30 paralogs encoding immunodominant major outer membrane P30 proteins of E. canis. The present study revealed transcription of p30-10 by E. canis in naturally infected ticks and sequence conservation of p30-10 genes for E. canis from diverse geographic regions.
PMCID: PMC149713  PMID: 12574308
25.  Comparison of nested PCR with immunofluorescent-antibody assay for detection of Ehrlichia canis infection in dogs treated with doxycycline. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1997;35(7):1852-1855.
A partial 16S rRNA gene was amplified in Ehrlichia canis-infected cells by nested PCR. The assay was specific and did not amplify the closely related Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Ehrlichia muris, Neorickettsia helminthoeca, and SF agent 16S rRNA genes. The assay was as sensitive as Southern hybridization, detecting as little as 0.2 pg of E. canis DNA. By this method, all blood samples from four dogs experimentally infected with E. canis were positive as early as day 4 postinoculation, which was before or at the time of seroconversion. One hundred five blood samples from dogs from Arizona and Texas (areas of E. canis endemicity) and 30 blood samples from dogs from Ohio (area of E. canis nonendemicity) were examined by nested PCR and immunofluorescent-antibody (IFA) test. Approximately 84% of dogs from Arizona and Texas had been treated with doxycycline before submission of blood specimens. Among Arizona and Texas specimens, 46 samples were PCR positive (44%) and 80 were IFA positive (76%). Forty-three of 80 IFA-positive samples (54%) were PCR positive, and 22 of 25 IFA-negative samples (88%) were negative in the nested PCR. None of the Ohio specimens were IFA positive, but 5 specimens were PCR positive (17%). Our results indicate that the nested PCR is highly sensitive and specific for detection of E. canis and may be more useful in assessing the clearance of the organisms after antibiotic therapy than IFA, especially in areas in which E. canis is endemic.
PMCID: PMC229855  PMID: 9196207

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