Serum samples, collected from Peromyscus leucopus (white-footed mouse) or Peromyscus gossypinus (cotton mouse) during 1987 through 1990 in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, and North Carolina (USA), and in 1997 in southern Connecticut were analyzed by indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) staining methods or Western blot procedures for antibodies to granulocytic ehrlichiae. Of the 82 sera from white-footed mice in Connecticut tested by IFA methods with either the BDS or NCH-1 strain of the human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) agent, 45 (55%) and 42 (51%) of the samples contained antibodies to these strains, respectively, at concentrations ranging from 1:80 to 1:2560. One (2%) of 43 sera from P. leucopus captured in Assateague Island (Maryland) had a titer of 1:80, while three (20%) of 15 sera from P. gossypinus, captured in Sapelo Island (Georgia) and four (40%) of 10 sera from cotton mice caught in Amelia Island (Florida) had antibodies to the NCH-1 strain at titers of 1:160 to 1:1,280. Fifty-five sera from P. leucopus in Cape Hatteras (North Carolina) and 30 sera from P. gossypinus in Mississippi were negative. Western blot analyses confirmed seropositivity for 19 (95%) of 20 mouse sera positive by IFA staining methods, including samples from both mouse species captured in Connecticut, Maryland, or Florida. There were key banding patterns to proteins having molecular masses of about 44, 80, 105, 110, or 120 kDa. Both serologic assays can be used to determine if mice have been exposed to granulocytic ehrlichiae. These rodents also may be useful in surveillance programs to identify endemic sites for HGE and in performing laboratory studies on immune responses to the etiologic agent.
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Vol. 35 • No. 2