In order to determine the role of coyotes in the epidemiology of granulocytic and monocytic ehrlichial agents in California (USA), we tested 149 serum samples for antibodies against Ehrlichia equi, E. risticii, and E. canis, using an indirect immunofluorescent antibody test. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was used to survey for the presence of members of the E. phagocytophila genogroup, E. risticii and E. canis in blood samples of 95 coyotes. Sixty-eight (46%) samples were seropositive for E. equi, two (1%) for E. risticii and none of the samples had antibodies reactive to E. canis. Two and one coyote were positive for E. risticii and members of the E. phagocytophila genogroup by PCR assay, respectively. In contrast, the 95 samples were negative for E. canis by PCR. Ninety-five percent of the 68 E. equi seropositive coyotes and the one coyote PCR positive for members of the E. phagocytophila genogroup originated from a coastal area. However, the two E. risticii seropositive coyotes and the two coyotes PCR positive for E. risticii were from northern California. Sequence analysis of the three amplified PCR products revealed the agent to be similar in two coyotes to the sequences of E. risticii from horses originating from northern California and identical in one coyote to the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis and E. equi from California. Thus, coyotes are exposed to granulocytic ehrlichiae and E. risticii and may play a role in the epidemiology of these ehrlichial agents in California.
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Vol. 36 • No. 3