Occurrence of Ehrlichia canis and Hepatozoon canis and probable exposure to Rickettsia amblyommatis in dogs and cats in Natal, RN.
Occurrence of infection or exposure to Ehrlichia canis, Hepatozoon canis and Rickettsia spp. was detected in feral cats living in two fragments from Atlantic rainforest, in Natal, RN, Brazil, and in dogs living around the parks. While serum samples were collected from 155 animals (53 cats living in the parks; 29 dogs living in human homes around the parks; and 73 dogs living at an animal control center-ACC), spleen samples were collected from 20 dogs that were euthanized at ACC. Serum samples were analyzed to Rickettsia spp. and E. canis antibodies using the indirect immunofluorescence assay. Seventeen of the 102 dogs (17%) had E. canis antibodies and 13% (20/155) of all dogs and cats (i.e. 3% (3/102) of the dogs and 32% (17/53) of the cats) were seropositive for Rickettsia spp. antigens. The animals were therefore been exposed to R. amblyommatis or by a very closely related genotype. Among the 20 dog spleen samples analyzed, eight were PCR positive for E. canis and two for H. canis (GenBank accession number MG772657 and MG772658, respectively). In none of the spleen samples were obtained amplicons for Babesia spp. through PCR. This study provided the first evidence that Rickettsia of the spotted fever group is circulating among dogs and cats in Natal.