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1.  Antibody Responses to MAP 1B and Other Cowdria ruminantium Antigens Are Down Regulated in Cattle Challenged with Tick-Transmitted Heartwater 
Serological diagnosis of heartwater or Cowdria ruminantium infection has been hampered by severe cross-reactions with antibody responses to related ehrlichial agents. A MAP 1B indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay that has an improved specificity and sensitivity for detection of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies has been developed to overcome this constraint (A. H. M. van Vliet, B. A. M. Van der Zeijst, E. Camus, S. M. Mahan, D. Martinez, and F. Jongejan, J. Clin. Microbiol. 33:2405–2410, 1995). When sera were tested from cattle in areas of endemic heartwater infection in Zimbabwe, only 33% of the samples tested positive in this assay despite a high infection pressure (S. M. Mahan, S. M. Samu, T. F. Peter, and F. Jongejan, Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci 849:85–87, 1998). To determine underlying causes for this observation, the kinetics of MAP 1B-specific IgG antibodies in cattle after tick-transmitted C. ruminantium infection and following recovery were investigated. Sera collected weekly over a period of 52 weeks from 37 cattle, which were naturally or experimentally infected with C. ruminantium via Amblyomma hebraeum ticks, were analyzed. MAP 1B-specific IgG antibody responses developed with similar kinetics in both field- and laboratory-infected cattle. IgG levels peaked at 4 to 9 weeks after tick infestation and declined to baseline levels between 14 and 33 weeks, despite repeated exposure to infected ticks and the establishment of a carrier state as demonstrated by PCR and xenodiagnosis. Some of the serum samples from laboratory, and field-infected cattle were also analyzed by immunoblotting and an indirect fluorescent-antibody test (IFAT) to determine whether this observed seroreversion was specific to the MAP 1B antigen. Reciprocal IFAT and immunoblot MAP 1-specific antibody titres peaked at 5 to 9 weeks after tick infestation but also declined between 30 and 45 weeks. This suggests that MAP 1B-specific IgG antibody responses and antibody responses to other C. ruminantium antigens are down regulated in cattle despite repeated exposure to C. ruminantium via ticks. Significantly, serological responses to the MAP 1B antigen may not be a reliable indicator of C. ruminantium exposure in cattle in areas of endemic heartwater infection.
PMCID: PMC96068  PMID: 11238227
2.  Laboratory reared Amblyomma hebraeum and Amblyomma variegatum ticks differ in their susceptibility to infection with Cowdria ruminantium. 
Epidemiology and Infection  1995;115(2):345-353.
The susceptibility of laboratory reared Zimbabwean Amblyomma hebraeum and A. variegatum ticks to infection with geographically distinct Cowdria ruminantium strains was investigated by feeding both species simultaneously on individual sheep infected with one of the four strains (Crystal Springs [Zimbabwe], Ball 3 [South Africa], Gardel [Guadeloupe] and Nigeria [Nigeria]). A. hebraeum ticks demonstrated a high susceptibility to infection with all four C. ruminantium strains. In comparison, A. variegatum were less susceptible to infection with the Crystal Springs and Ball 3 strains (P < 0.001), but showed a similar susceptibility to the Gardel and Nigeria strains. The differences in susceptibility of A. variegatum to infection with the four strains of C. ruminantium correlated with the origin of these strains. The consistently higher susceptibility of A. hebraeum ticks to infection with geographically different C. ruminantium strains may be one explanation for the observation that heartwater is a more serious problem where A. hebraeum is the vector of the disease.
PMCID: PMC2271405  PMID: 7589273
3.  Size variation of the major immunodominant protein of Cowdria ruminantium. 
An immunodominant response is made to a polypeptide of approximately 32 kDa in animals infected with the rickettsial pathogen Cowdria ruminantium. We show here using cultured strains of the rickettsia from different geographical areas that the apparent size of this polypeptide varies with strain origin. Changes in the primary structure between strains should be considered in the design of vaccines and diagnostic tests based on this antigen.
PMCID: PMC368408  PMID: 8556531

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