Serologic Evidence of Ehrlichiosis Among Humans and Wild Animals in The Netherlands
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The seroprevalence of antibodies directed against granulocytic and monocytic Ehrlichia was determined by use of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis agent and Ehrlichia chaffeensis as surrogate antigens. Seven hundred twenty-one serum samples were collected between 1992 and 1999 from febrile patients with unresolved aetiology (n=108), patients suspected of having Lyme disease (n=174), forestry workers (n=154) and healthy controls (n=54) as well as from wild deer (n=96), hares (n=60), wild boar (n=15) and red foxes (n=60). Reactive antibodies against granulocytic Ehrlichia were detected in 4% of febrile patients with unresolved aetiology and in 4% of patients suspected of having Lyme disease. Among the forestry workers, 1% tested positive for antibodies against granulocytic Ehrlichia, whereas all the healthy controls were negative. Antibody reaction against monocytic Ehrlichia was detected in only 2% of the febrile patients. Granulocytic Ehrlichia and monocytic Ehrlichia-reactive serum antibodies were detected in 22% and 3% of the deer samples, respectively, and in 2% of the hares. In wild boars and in red foxes, only serum antibodies reactive against monocytic Ehrlichia were detected in 13% and 7%, respectively. The demonstration of the presence of both granulocytic and monocytic Ehrlichia-reactive serum antibodies among humans and wild animals in The Netherlands indicates that patients suspected of having Lyme disease and febrile patients with unresolved aetiology should be tested for the presence of granulocytic and monocytic Ehrlichia antibodies or by polymerase chain reaction. Furthermore, granulocytic Ehrlichia are most prevalent in humans and animals in The Netherlands.
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