Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection in a multi-species deer community in the New Forest, England
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The tick-transmitted Anaplasma phagocytophilum has been recorded in a range of mammal species and causes granulocytic ehrlichiosis in humans, horses, and companion animals as well as tick-borne fever in ruminants. Although deer and other ruminant species are known to be natural hosts, the distribution among sympatric deer populations is unexplored. Blood from 80 deer of four species were screened using an A. phagocytophilum-specific real-time polymerase chain reaction. Overall, 29% (19–40) of deer tested positive. Fallow deer (Dama dama), the most numerous species, had significantly lower prevalence (21%) than roe (Capreolus capreolus), red (Cervus elaphus), or sika (Cervus nippon) deer (average 50%). It is suggested that patterns of habitat use influence infection levels in different deer species. The role of deer as reservoirs of anaplasmosis remains unknown; however, prevalence in deer could be a useful index of local infection pressure and the risk of disease in domestic animals and humans.
KeywordsAnaplasmosis Dama dama Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis Ixodes ricinus Tick-borne disease
We are grateful to the Forestry Commission, especially the Head Keepers John Gulliver and Andy Page, and the other Keepers who assisted with sample collection. MTR was supported by a BBSRC-Pfizer CASE Studentship.
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