Coyotes (Canis latrans) are commonly infested with ticks, including Amblyomma americanum, the predominant vector of Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii; Dermacentor variabilis, an important vector of Rickettsia rickettsii; and Amblyomma maculatum, a major vector of Rickettsia parkeri, a spotted fever group (SFG) Rickettsia. To determine the degree to which coyotes are infected with or exposed to tick-borne bacterial disease agents, serum samples collected from coyotes in Oklahoma and Texas were tested for antibodies reactive to R. rickettsii, Ehrlichia canis, E. chaffeensis, E. ewingii, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum by indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) testing or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Of the coyotes tested, 60% (46/77) and 64% (47/74) had antibodies reactive to R. rickettsii and E. chaffeensis, respectively, on IFA. Additionally, 5% (4/77) had antibodies reactive to E. canis, but not B. burgdorferi or A. phagocytophilum, on SNAP® 4Dx® ELISA; subsequent serologic analysis by plate ELISA using species-specific peptides revealed antibodies to E. ewingii, E. canis, and E. chaffeensis in 46% (23/50), 18% (9/50), and 4% (2/50) of serum samples, respectively. Taken together, these data indicate that coyotes in this region are commonly exposed to SFG Rickettsia and E. ewingii and that further consideration of coyotes as a component of the maintenance cycle for these pathogens may be warranted.
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Vol. 49 • No. 3