Simultaneous infection of cattle with different Anaplasma phagocytophilum variants
Anaplasma phagocytophilum is a tick-transmitted Gram-negative obligate intracellular bacterium that replicates in neutrophil granulocytes. It causes tick-borne fever in cattle and sheep. We report here the case of a 5-year-old cow from Germany with clinically overt granulocytic anaplasmosis presenting with fever, lower limb oedema and drop in milk-yield. The herd encompassed 10 animals, 8 other animals showed subclinical infection. The strains from the 9 A. phagocytophilum positive cows were molecularly characterized using ankA gene-based and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Seven of 9 (78%) animals were infected simultaneously with different ankA variants belonging to ankA clusters I and IV. MLST analysis also revealed the presence of multiple strain types. This could be due to co-transmission or superinfection. Hosts harboring diverse A. phagocytophilum strains might enable the emergence of new ankA variants and/or MLST sequence types via bacterial recombination.