Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) Clinical Pathology Section Head Julie Piccione, DVM, MS, DACVP, recently co-authored a journal article over tick-borne relapsing fever in domestic Texas dogs. This study is the first to demonstrate the prevalence of the disease in Texas.
The abstract is below. Read the full article by clicking here.
Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever (TBRF) is caused by spirochetes in the genus Borrelia. Very limited information exists on the incidence of this disease in humans and domestic dogs in the United States. The main objective of this study is to evaluate exposure of dogs to Borrelia turicatae, a causative agent of TBRF, in Texas. To this end, 878 canine serum samples were submitted to Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory from October 2011 to September 2012 for suspected tick-borne illnesses. The recombinant Borrelial antigen glycerophosphodiester phosphodiesterase (GlpQ) was expressed, purified, and used as a diagnostic antigen in both ELISA assays and Immunoblot analysis. Unfortunately, due to significant background reaction, the use of GlpQ as a diagnostic marker in the ELISA assay was not effective in discriminating dogs exposed to B. turicatae. Nevertheless, immunoblot assays showed that 17 out of 853 samples tested were considered to be seropositive, which constitutes 1.99% of all Texas samples tested in this study. The majority of positive samples were from central and southern Texas. Exposure to TBRF spirochetes may be seasonal, with 70.59% (12 out of 17) of the cases detected between June and December. In addition, 2 out of the 17 sero-reactive cases (11.76%) showed reactivity to both B. burgdorferi (causative agent of Lyme disease) and B. turicatae (a causative agent of TBRF). This is the first report of TBRF sero-prevalence in companion animals in an endemic area. Our findings further indicate that B. turicatae is maintained in domestic canids in Texas in regions where human disease also occurs, suggesting that domestic dogs could serve as sentinels for this disease.