Evaluation of Brain Tissue or Cerebrospinal Fluid with Broadly Reactive Polymerase Chain Reaction for Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Spotted Fever Group Rickettsia, Bartonella, and Borrelia Species in Canine Neurological Diseases (109 Cases) Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Vector-transmitted microorganisms in the genera Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Rickettsia, Bartonella, and Borrelia are commonly suspected in dogs with meningoencephalomyelitis (MEM), but the prevalence of these pathogens in brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of dogs with MEM is unknown. HYPOTHESIS/OBJECTIVES: To determine if DNA from these genera is present in brain tissue and CSF of dogs with MEM, including those with meningoencephalitis of unknown etiology (MUE) and histopathologically confirmed cases of granulomatous (GME) and necrotizing meningoencephalomyelitis (NME). ANIMALS: Hundred and nine dogs examined for neurological signs at 3 university referral hospitals. METHODS: Brain tissue and CSF were collected prospectively from dogs with neurological disease and evaluated by broadly reactive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Spotted Fever Group Rickettsia, Bartonella, and Borrelia species. Medical records were evaluated retrospectively to identify MEM and control cases. RESULTS: Seventy-five cases of MUE, GME, or NME, including brain tissue from 31 and CSF from 44 cases, were evaluated. Brain tissue from 4 cases and inflammatory CSF from 30 cases with infectious, neoplastic, compressive, vascular, or malformative disease were evaluated as controls. Pathogen nucleic acids were detected in 1 of 109 cases evaluated. Specifically, Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii DNA was amplified from 1/6 dogs with histopathologically confirmed GME. CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: The results of this investigation suggest that microorganisms in the genera Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Rickettsia, and Borrelia are unlikely to be directly associated with canine MEM in the geographic regions evaluated. The role of Bartonella in the pathogenesis of GME warrants further investigation.

published proceedings

  • J Vet Intern Med

author list (cited authors)

  • Barber, R. M., Li, Q., Diniz, P., Porter, B. F., Breitschwerdt, E. B., Claiborne, M. K., ... Schatzberg, S. J.

citation count

  • 51

complete list of authors

  • Barber, RM||Li, Q||Diniz, PPVP||Porter, BF||Breitschwerdt, EB||Claiborne, MK||Birkenheuer, AJ||Levine, JM||Levine, GJ||Chandler, K||Kenny, P||Nghiem, P||Wei, S||Greene, CE||Kent, M||Platt, SR||Greer, K||Schatzberg, SJ

publication date

  • March 2010