The relationship between the degree of thrombocytopenia and infection with Ehrlichia canis in an endemic area
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Ehrlichia canis is the causative agent of canine monocytic ehrlichiosis. In order to evaluate platelet counts as a screening test for E. canis in an endemic area, 217 whole blood samples from dogs were divided into three groups: 71 non-thrombocytopenic samples (group A, platelet counts greater than 200000/muL) and 146 thrombocytopenic samples (less than 200000/muL). The thrombocytopenic group was further divided into 62 with platelet counts between 100000-200000/muL (Group B) and 84 samples with less than 100000 platelets/muL (Group C). All samples were examined for the presence of a segment of the Ehrlichia canis 16S rRNA gene using a nested polymerase chain reaction. Sixty-seven of the 217 samples (30.9%) were positive for the presence of the E. canis 16S rRNA gene; 53 (63.1%) of the group C samples and 13 (21%) of group B. Only one (1.4%) of the non-thrombocytopenic samples (Group A) was positive. These data support the concept that platelet counts may be a good screening test for canine monocytic ehrlichiosis, and that the magnitude of thrombocytopenia may increase the reliability of diagnosis.