Molecular Study of Free-ranging Mule Deer and White-tailed Deer from British Columbia, Canada, for Evidence of Anaplasma spp. and Ehrlichia spp.


A. A. Gajadhar. 116 Veterinary Road, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 2R3. Tel.: (306) 975 5344; Fax: (306) 975 5711; E-mail:


Twenty-three free-ranging white-tailed deer (WTD; Odocoileus virginianus) and six mule deer (MD; Odocoileus hemionus) from south-central British Columbia, Canada, were tested for Anaplasma marginale by msp5 gene-specific PCR and Ehrlichia spp. by 16S rRNA or citrate synthase (gltA) gene-specific PCR, as well as by PCR with universal 16S rRNA primers detecting a wide range of bacteria. No deer tested positive for A. marginale. Amplification with universal 16S rRNA primers followed by sequencing of cloned fragments detected an Anaplasma sp. in one of 23 (4.3%) WTD and six of six (100%) MD and Bartonella sp. in four of 23 (17.4%) WTD. The Anaplasma sp. was genetically distinct from A. marginale and all other recognized members of the genus. Four of six (66.7%) MD and 0 of 23 (0%) WTD were Ehrlichia positive by PCR with primers for 16S rRNA and gltA genes. The sequences of gltA PCR fragments were identical to each other and to the respective region of the gltA gene of an Ehrlichia sp. which we detected previously in naturally infected cattle from the same area, suggesting the possibility of biological transmission of this rickettsia between cattle and wild cervids. Antibodies reactive with the MSP5 protein of A. marginale were detected using a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in two of six (33.3%) MD, but not in WTD. The two seropositive MD were PCR positive for both the Anaplasma sp. and Ehrlichia sp. detected in this study, suggesting a reaction of antibodies against one or both of these rickettsias with the MSP5 antigen.