Amplification of ehrlichial DNA from dogs 34 months after infection with Ehrlichia canis

Shimon Harrus*, Trevor Waner, Itzhak Aizenberg, Janet E. Foley, Amy M. Poland, Hylton Bark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)73-76
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998


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