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Abstract

Nine isolates of Rickettsia tsutsugamushi were obtained from patients with Tsutsugamushi disease (scrub typhus) in Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu. Immunological analyses of these patients' sera and the isolates were performed by indirect immunofluorescence, indirect immunoperoxidase or immunoblotting techniques. In the analysis of reactions of the patients' sera with the prototype strains Gilliam, Karp, and Kato and with the isolates, sera from two patients, including Kawasaki, showed similar profiles and cross-reaction with the two isolates recovered from the corresponding patients, but reacted only weakly with the prototype strains. With guinea pig polyclonal antibodies against the isolate and prototype strains, Kawasaki strain showed some degree of cross-reaction with Gilliam strain but not with either Karp or Kato strain, nor with Shimokoshi strain which is known to be different antigenically from the prototype strains. Additionally, strain-specific murine monoclonal antibodies against Gilliam, Karp, and Kato strains did not react at all with Kawasaki strain. These results suggest that the Kawasaki strain may be different antigenically from the prototype strains and Shimokoshi strain. The finding two strains of the same antigenic type (Kawasaki) among only nine isolates suggests the presence of Kawasaki-type rickettsiae in Miyazaki Prefecture. Shimokoshi strain also did not react with these strain-specific monoclonal antibodies, suggesting that strains of R. tsutsugamushi antigenically distinct from the prototype strains, such as Kawasaki and Shimokoshi strains, may easily be recognized by their non-reactivity with these monoclonal antibodies.