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Newly Discovered Goat Pathogen Can Infect Humans

01 April 2015

CHINA - A newly discovered pathogen species infecting goats in China can also affect humans, warn researchers at Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology.

Anaplasmosis, formerly known as gall sickness, is a disease of ruminants caused by several different pathogens in the Anaplasma group. All the Anaplasma species are transmitted by ticks. 

The disease results in rapid loss of condition in the infected animal. 

The most common species infecting goats is Anaplasma ovis, and it is more severe in goats than in sheep. Overt clinical signs and mortality is rare and recovered cases remain persistent carriers.

Some Anaplasma species are know to infect humans, so the researchers investigated the potential for human pathogenicity of a newly discovered Anaplasma species infecting goats in China.

The researchers collected blood samples from patients with a history of tick bite over two months at Mudanjiang Forestry Central Hospital of Heilongjiang Province, to detect the novel Anaplasma species.

28 of 477 patients assessed were infected with the novel Anaplasma species according to PCR and sequencing, and the pathogen was also isolated in vitro from three patients.

Phylogenetic analyses showed that the pathogen was distinct from all known Anaplasma species. The researchers dubbed it Anaplasma capra, as it was also found in goats.

Antibodies formed against the new pathogen were detectable in many of the patients, and all 28 patients developed symptoms, including fever in 23, headache in 14, malaise in 13, dizziness in nine, myalgia in four, and chills in four.

Additionally, ten of 28 patients had rash or eschar, eight had gastrointestinal symptoms, and three had stiff neck. Five patients were admitted to hospital because of severe disease.

The emergence of A. capra as a cause of human disease suggests that individuals living in or travelling to endemic regions in northern China should take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to this novel tick-borne pathogen.

Further Reading

The full report and author list can be viewed by clicking here.

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