Prevalence of Ehrlichia muris in Wisconsin Deer Ticks Collected During the Mid 1990s

Sam R Telford III*, Heidi K Goethert , Jenny A Cunningham
Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA

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© Telford III et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536; Tel: 508-887-4236; Fax 508-839-7911; E-mail: sam.telford@tufts.edu


Human ehrlichiosis is due to infection by tick transmitted bacteria of the genus Ehrlichia. Based on a hypothesis for the biogeography of deer tick transmitted infections, we undertook a focused search for the Eurasian E. muris in North American deer ticks. The search was stimulated by anecdotal reports of E. muris-like infection in human ehrlichiosis patients from Wisconsin. We analyzed archived adult deer ticks collected in northern Wisconsin during the 1990s by specific polymerase chain reaction for evidence of infection, and sequenced amplification products to identify E. muris. About 1% of 760 adult deer ticks collected from Spooner, Wisconsin in the 1990s contained E. muris DNA. We conclude that E. muris was present in North American deer ticks a decade ago and is likely to infect this human biting vector elsewhere in the U.S. Biogeographic theory and molecular phylogenetic methods can facilitate a targeted search for potential zoonoses.

Keywords: Ehrlichiosis, deer ticks, Wisconsin, Ehrlichia muris, Ixodes dammini, PCR.