Epidemiology and Infection



Research Article

Longitudinal monitoring of the dynamics of infections due to Bartonella species in UK woodland rodents


R. J.  BIRTLES  a1 a2 c1, S. M.  HAZEL  a3 a4, M.  BENNETT  a4, K.  BOWN  a3 a4, D.  RAOULT  a2 and M.  BEGON  a3 a4
a1 Department of Pathology and Microbiology, School of Medical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TD, UK
a2 Unité des Rickettsies, UPRESA 6020, Faculté de Médecine, 27 Boulevard Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille cédex 5, France
a3 Population Biology Research Group, School of Biological Sciences and Centre for Comparative Infectious Diseases, University of Liverpool, PO Box 147, Liverpool L69 3BX, UK
a4 Department of Veterinary Clinical Science and Animal Husbandry and Centre for Comparative Infectious Diseases, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Chester High Road, Cheshire CH64 7TE, UK

Abstract

Blood samples were repeatedly collected from 12 sympatric woodland rodents over a 12-month period and DNA extracts from each were incorporated into a bartonella-specific PCR targeting a fragment of the 16S/23S rRNA intergenic spacer region (ISR). The composition of each amplicon was analysed using restriction enzyme analysis (REA) and base sequence comparison. Bartonella DNA was detected in 70 of 109 samples. Eleven samples contained DNA derived from more than one strain. Sequence analysis of 62 samples found 12 sequence variants (ISR genotypes) that were provisionally assigned to 5 different species, 2 of which were newly recognized. Up to five different species were detected in each animal. On about two-thirds of occasions, a species detected 1 month was not there the next, but never was a genotype superseded by another of the same species. However, a genotype could be re-encountered months later in the same animal, even if interim samples contained other genotypes. Our results suggest that although most animals are bacteraemic most of the time, specific infections are often superseded and that a complex and dynamic epidemiology of bartonella bacteraemias exists in woodland rodents.

(Accepted November 14 2000)


Correspondence:
c1 Author for correspondence: Department of Pathology and Microbiology, School of Medical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TD, UK.


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