Term of Award

Summer 1999

Degree Name

Master of Science

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Biology and Institute of Arthropodology and Parasitology

Committee Chair

Lance A. Durden

Committee Member 1

Q. Quentin Fang

Committee Member 2

James H. Oliver, Jr.

Committee Member 3

Oscar J. Pung

Abstract

Human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME) is an emerging, zoonosis transmitted to mammals by ixodid ticks. Prevalence of infected ticks and distribution of infection foci indicate relative risk of human exposure to ehrlichiosis and may be influenced by factors such as geographic isolation and human disturbance. To test this, individual and pooled lone star ticks, Amblyomma americanum (L.), collected from 3 populations from the coast and barrier islands of Georgia were screened for Ehrlichia chaffeensis Anderson, Dawson, Jone, and Wilson, the agent of HME. A species-specific, nested polymerase chain reaction (PGR) assay was used to amplify a 572 base pair fragment of the E. chaffeensis 16S rRNA gene from infected ticks. PGR product specificity was confirmed by nucleotide sequencing. Our results showed the prevalence of infected ticks to be 0%, 0.9%, and 9.3% for Sapelo Island, St. Catherine's Island, and Ft. McAllister respectively.

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