Serum samples obtained from white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Connecticut (n=218) and South Carolina (n=20) (USA) during the period 1992–2002 were analyzed for antibodies to whole-cell or recombinant antigens (i.e., fusion proteins) of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, etiologic agents of Lyme borreliosis and granulocytic ehrlichiosis, respectively. In enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) with whole-cell B. burgdorferi, the overall seropositivity rate for Connecticut (53%) exceeded that for South Carolina (30%). In separate tests of seven recombinant antigens of B. burgdorferi by an ELISA, seroprevalence for the VlsE antigen was highest (48%) in Connecticut followed by outer surface protein (OspF) (21%), whereas serum reactivities to the protein (p) 41-G antigen (55%) and VlsE (25%) were most frequent for South Carolina sera. In analyses for antibodies to the recombinant protein (p) 44 antigen of A. phagocytophilum, seroprevalences of 52% and 25% were recorded for Connecticut and South Carolina samples, respectively. These findings paralleled those determined by indirect fluorescent antibody staining methods with whole cells (43% and 30%). Moreover, there was good agreement (74%) in results of Western blot analyses and an ELISA when a subset of 39 sera was screened with whole-cell or recombinant p44 antigens of A. phagocytophilum. An ELISA with highly specific recombinant VlsE or p44 antigens can be used in conjunction with other antibody tests to determine whether deer living in different regions of eastern United States were exposed to B. burgdorferi or A. phagocytophilum.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2