Prevalence of antibodies against Ehrlichia spp. and Orientia tsutsugamushi in small mammals around harbors in Taiwan

Kun Hsien Tsai, Shu Feng Chang, Tsai Ying Yen, Wei Liang Shih, Wan Jen Chen, Hsi Chieh Wang, Xue Jie Yu, Tzai Hung Wen, Wen Jer Wu, Pei Yun Shu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Tick-borne ehrlichiosis and mite-borne scrub typhus represent important emerging zoonotic rickettsial diseases. Although scrub typhus has been recognized by the Taiwanese public health system, information on ehrlichial infections is scarce in Taiwan. In this study, the risk of spread of ectoparasites on rodents through aerial and marine transportation was assessed in international and domestic harbors. Here, we report the first systematic surveillance of seroprevalence against Ehrlichia spp. in small mammals on the main island of Taiwan. Methods: In total, 1648 small mammals were trapped from 8 international ports, 18 domestic fishing harbors, and 7 local public health centers around Taiwan from November 2004 to December 2008. Sera were analyzed using indirect immunofluorescence assays to detect IgG antibodies against Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Orientia tsutsugamushi. A serum titer of 蠇1:80 was considered positive. Results: Antibodies against Ehrlichia spp. and O. tsutsugamushi were detected in 3.28 % and 4.92 % of small mammals active around harbors, respectively. The seropositive rate against Ehrlichia was higher in northern Taiwan from 2005 to 2008. However, O. tsutsugamushi infections increased in southern Taiwan during this period. The serological evidence of ehrlichial and O. tsutsugamushi infections in all international ports were included in the study. No significant differences were found among the seropositive rates of Ehrlichia spp. and O. tsutsugamushi in small mammals trapped between international and local harbors. Conclusions: The overall prevalence of Ehrlichia spp. and O. tsutsugamushi infections in small mammals active around harbors was 3.28 % and 4.92 %, respectively. The results provided serological evidence supporting the potential risks of transporting pathogens through air and maritime traffic. This study highlights serious issues of the emergence and spread of rickettsial diseases in Taiwan. The incidence of human ehrlichiosis requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number45
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 27 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ehrlichia chaffeensis
  • Orientia tsutsugamushi
  • Small mammals
  • Taiwan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • General Veterinary
  • Parasitology


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