Natural prevalence of infection with Ehrlichia (Cytoecetes) phagocytophila of Ixodes ricinus ticks in Scotland

Pilar Alberdi, A.R. Walker, Edith Paxton, Keith J Sumption

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Ixodes ricinus nymphs and adults were collected from vegetation and from sheep at four sites in Scotland typical of areas endemic for tick-borne fever in sheep caused by infection with Ehrlichia (Cytoecetes) phagocytophila (Rickettsiales). The great majority of ticks examined was from woodland sites adjacent to sheep farms where there was a high probability of them feeding on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in a non-domestic focus of infestation and infection. Ticks were examined for infection by five methods. Batches of ticks were examined either by feeding on susceptible sheep or by feeding on rabbits and then prepared as stabilate which was inoculated into susceptible sheep. The sheep were monitored for clinical signs of tick borne fever. Batches of ticks were examined by polymerase chain reaction for Ehrlichia phagocytophila. Salivary glands were dissected out and stained by the Feulgen method to detect Ehrlichia masses, and were examined by indirect fluorescent antibody test. Each of the methods detected infection in ticks and the prevalence of infection in nymphs with the various methods ranged from >0.25% to 2.0%. Small samples of adults examined by Feulgen staining of salivary glands indicated infection prevalences of 2.1% in males and 1.6% in females. It is considered that these low infection prevalences may be typical of natural foci of infection where deer could be a major host of ticks and E. phagocytophila.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-13
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1998


  • Animals
  • Coloring Agents
  • DNA Primers/chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial/analysis
  • Deer/parasitology
  • Ehrlichia/genetics
  • Ehrlichia/isolation & purification
  • Ehrlichiosis/transmission
  • Ehrlichiosis/veterinary
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel/veterinary
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect/veterinary
  • Insect Vectors/microbiology
  • Insect Vectors/physiology
  • Male
  • Nymph/microbiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction/veterinary
  • Rabbits
  • Rosaniline Dyes
  • Salivary Glands/microbiology
  • Scotland
  • Sheep
  • Sheep Diseases/transmission
  • Tick Infestations/epidemiology
  • Tick Infestations/veterinary
  • Tick-Borne Diseases/transmission
  • Tick-Borne Diseases/veterinary
  • Ticks/microbiology
  • Ticks/physiology


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