We determined the antibody prevalence to Ehrlichia spp., in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and the geographic distribution of seropositive animals in 84 counties in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia (USA). Using an indirect fluorescent antibody test we detected antibodies (≥ 1:128) to this bacterium in 544 (43%) of 1269 deer. Presence of antibodies to Ehrlichia spp. was related to a southerly latitude, low elevation, and resulting milder climatic conditions. It appears that white-tailed deer were naturally infected with Ehrlichia spp.; the infection was widely distributed throughout the southeastern United States. Based on these data, we propose that white-tailed deer play a role in the natural history of Ehrlichia spp. infection in the United States.
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Vol. 30 • No. 2