We detected a novel tick-transmitted Ehrlichia in a goat following exposure to lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum) from a park in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, GA, U.S.A. Nineteen days after infestation with field-collected adult ticks, the goat developed a fever of two days duration, which coincided with mild clinical pathologic changes and the presence of DNA from a novel Ehrlichia in peripheral blood. The goat transmitted ehrlichiae to uninfected nymphal A. americanum that fed upon the goat, and the ticks maintained the pathogen transstadially. Five months after exposure, immunosuppression of the goat resulted in transient ehrlichemia with transmission of ehrlichiae to feeding ticks. Sequencing and phylogenetic reconstructions of the 16S rRNA, gltA, map1, map2, and ribonuclease III genes suggest the agent might be a divergent strain of Ehrlichia ruminantium, the agent of heartwater, or a new, closely related species. Convalescent serum from the goat reacted with the MAP-1 protein of E. ruminantium and with whole-cell Ehrlichia chaffeensis antigen. DNA from the novel Ehrlichia was detected in 5/302 field-collected adult A. americanum from the park. Our data suggest that A. americanum is a natural vector and reservoir of this Ehrlichia and that domestic goats can be reservoirs The geographic range of the agent and its pathogenicity to humans and livestock needs to be evaluated.
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