Strains of Ehrlichia chaffeensis in southern Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina.
To monitor the percentage and stability of Ehrlichia chaffeensis-infected ticks in southern Indiana over time, pools of Amblyomma americanum (L.) ticks were screened for infection in southern Indiana for a 2nd time. Nested polymerase chain reaction (with 6% DMSO included only in the 2nd reaction) was performed on 920 ticks in pools of 5 individuals from 9 sites (5 sites previously examined and 4 new ones) in 6 counties. The average minimum infection rate for all sites for 1997 was 1.6%, lower than that of 4.9% previously observed for 1995. However, when only the 5 sites that were positive for infected ticks in 1995 were reexamined, the average minimum infection rate was even more disparate (1.4% in 1997 and 5.1% in 1995). To correlate the presence of infected ticks with the presence of exposed deer, which serve as a reservoir, dried blood samples collected from hunter-killed deer at 2 locations in southern Indiana were tested for E. chaffeensis-reactive antibodies using an indirect immunofluorescent assay. Antibodies were detected in 45 and 47% of 98 samples examined from the 2 stations. These data provide support to our previous report of a population of E. chaffeensis-infected A. americanum in southern Indiana and the high proportion of deer previously exposed to E. chaffeensis suggests a stable maintenance of E. chaffeensis in this tick-vertebrate zoonotic system.