Seroprevalence and genotypic analysis of ehrlichia canis infection in dogs and humans in Cauca, Colombia

Elkin Forero-Becerra, Jignesh Patel, Heidy C. Martinez-Diaz, Paola Betancourt-Ruiz, Efrain Benavides, Steven Duran, Luz A. Olaya-Masmela, Eliana Bolaños, Marylin Hidalgo, Jere W. McBride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Ehrlichia canis infections have been reported in humans in Venezuela and Costa Rica. In this study, 506 healthy residents and 114 dogs from four municipalities (Cauca, Colombia) were surveyed and blood samples collected. Antibodies to E. canis in human and canine sera were evaluated using the Tandem repeat protein 19 (TRP19) peptide ELISA and indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA). Ehrlichia canis TRP19 antibodies were detected in only 1/506 human sera, but the single positive sample was negative by IFA. The majority (75/114; 66%) of dogs surveyed had antibodies to the E. canis TRP19 peptide by ELISA, and eight randomly selected sera were further confirmed by E. canis IFA. Genomic DNA samples obtained from 73 E. canis TRP19 ELISA-positive dog blood samples were examined by PCR targeting the 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA) gene. Ehrlichia canis 16S rRNA was amplified in 30 (41%) of the dogs, and 16 amplicons were selected for DNA sequencing, which confirmed that all were E. canis. A second PCR was performed on the 16 confirmed E. canis 16S rRNA PCR-positive samples to determine the TRP36 genotype by amplifying the trp36 gene. TRP36 PCR amplicon sequencing identified nine dogs infected with the U.S. E. canis TRP36 genotype (56%), one dog with the Brazilian genotype (6%), and six dogs with the Costa Rican genotype (38%). Moreover, these molecular genotype signatures were consistent with serologic analysis using TRP36 genotype-specific peptides. Notably, there was no serologic evidence of E. canis infection in humans, suggesting that E. canis infection in dogs in Cauca is not associated with zoonotic human infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1771-1776
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 5 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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