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Detection of granulocytic Ehrlichia species DNA by PCR in persistently infected dogs
  1. A. Egenvall, DVM, PhD1,
  2. I. Lilliehöök, DVM, PhD2,
  3. E. Karlstam, DVM3,
  4. A. Bjöersdorff, DVM4,
  5. E. Olsson Engvall, DVM,PhD5,
  6. K. Artursson, DVM, PhD5,
  7. M. Heldtander, MSc5 and
  8. A. Gunnarsson, DVM,PhD5
  1. 1 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
  2. 2 Department of Clinical Chemistry
  3. 3 Department of Pathology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
  4. 4 Department of Clinical Microbiology, Kalmar County Hospital, Kalmar, Sweden
  5. 5 Department of Bacteriology, National Veterinary Institute, Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract

Three female beagle dogs inoculated with granulocytic Ehrlichia species were monitored for four to six months to determine whether there was evidence that the organisms persisted. The dogs were inoculated intravenously with blood containing an Ehrlichia species closely related to Ehrlichia equi and Ehrdichia phagocytophila, and identical to the human granulocytic ehrlichiosis agent with respect to its 16S rRNA gene sequence. The clinical signs were evaluated, and blood samples were collected for haematology, serum biochemistry and serology. Ehrlichial inclusions in the blood were monitored by microscopy, and ehrlichial DNA was detected by the polymerase chain reaction (PcR). Two of the dogs were injected with prednisolone on days 54 to 56 and days 152 to 154 after infection, and the other was injected with prednisolone on days 95 to 97 after infection. The dogs were euthanased and examined postmortem. Ehrlichial inclusions were demonstrated in the neutrophils and seroconversion occurred shortly after inoculation. Two of the dogs developed acute disease with rectal temperatures above 39.°C, after which no further clinical signs were observed. The administration of corticosteroids seemed to facilitate the detection of ehrlichial inclusions. Ehrlichial DNA was detected intermittently by PCR in blood samples from two of the dogs throughout the study. Persistent infection was demonstrated up to five-and-a-half months after inoculation.

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