Acquisition and transmission of the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis by Ixodes scapularis ticks

Emir Hodzic, Durland Fish, Craig M. Maretzki, Aravinda M. De Silva, Sunlian Feng, Stephen W. Barthold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the transmission of a human isolate of the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE agent) from infected mice to larval ticks and to examine the population kinetics of the HGE agent in different stages of the tick life cycle. The HGE agent was quantitated by competitive PCR with blood from infected mice and with Ixodes scapularis ticks. The median infectious dose for C3H mice was 104 to 105 organisms when blood from an infected severe combined immunodeficient mouse was used as an inoculum. Uninfected larval ticks began to acquire infection from infected mice within 24 h of attachment, and the number of HGE agent organisms increased in larval ticks during feeding and after detachment of replete ticks. Molted nymphal ticks, infected as larvae, transmitted infection to mice between 40 and 48 h of attachment. Onset of feeding stimulated replication of the HGE agent within nymphal ticks. These studies suggest that replication of the HGE agent during and after feeding in larvae and during feeding in nymphs is a means by which the HGE agent overcomes inefficiencies in acquisition of infection by ticks and in tick-borne transmission to mammalian hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3574-3578
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


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