Recently, an undescribed Anaplasma sp. (also called Ehrlichia-like sp. or WTD agent) was isolated in ISE6 tick cells from captive white-tailed deer. The goal of the current study was to characterize this organism using a combination of experimental infection, morphologic, serologic, and molecular studies. Each of 6 experimentally inoculated white-tailed deer fawns (Odocoileus virginianus) became chronically infected (100+ days) with the Anaplasma sp. by inoculation of either infected whole blood or culture. None of the deer showed evidence of clinical disease, but 3 of the 6 deer evaluated had multiple episodes of transient thrombocytopenia. Light microscopy of Giemsa-stained, thin blood smears revealed tiny, dark, spherical structures in platelets of acutely infected deer. Anaplasma sp. was detected in platelets of inoculated deer by polymerase chain reaction, transmission electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization. Five of 6 deer developed antibodies reactive to Anaplasma sp. antigen, as detected by indirect fluorescent antibody testing. Phylogenetic analyses of 16S rRNA, groESL, and gltA sequences confirmed the Anaplasma sp. is related to A. platys. Two attempts to transmit the Anaplasma sp. between deer by feeding Amblyomma americanum, a suspected tick vector, were unsuccessful. Based on its biologic, antigenic, and genetic characteristics, this organism is considered a novel species of Anaplasma, and the name Anaplasma odocoilei sp. nov. is proposed with UMUM76T (=CSUR-A1) as the type strain.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful to David Stallknecht for insightful guidance, Jane Huffman for facilitating acquisition of fawns, Andrea Varela-Stokes and Molly Murphy for significant technical help, Mary Ard for electron microscopy expertise, and Jeff Tucker and Frank Waters for animal handling and husbandry assistance. Work was supported primarily by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ( 5 R01 AI044235-02 ). Further support was provided by the Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration Act (50 Stat. 917) and through sponsorship from fish and wildlife agencies in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
- Novel species
- White-tailed deer