Incidence and prevalence of infection with human granulocytic ehrlichiosis agent in Germany. A prospective study in young healthy subjects

Infection. 2001 Oct;29(5):271-3. doi: 10.1007/s15010-001-2005-x.


Background: Only limited data are available on incidence and prevalence of infection with the human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) agent in a healthy population.

Materials and methods: In a prospective study, we tested 361 male soldiers (age 18-29 years) from southwestern Germany for the HGE agent immunoglobulin G (IgG) using an indirect immunofluorescence antibody assay and for Borrelia burgdorferi IgG with an ELISA at the beginning and the end of their 10-month military service. Using a standardized questionnaire, the subjects were asked about clinical symptoms at the beginning and the end of the observation period.

Results: Of these 361 subjects, 14.9% were HGE agent IgG positive at study entry. 19 participants (5.3%) seroconverted from IgG negative to positive during the observation period resulting in an incidence rate of 6.4% per year. 20 subjects converted from initially HGE agent IgG positive to negative resulting in a reconversion rate of 6.6% per year. Concurrence of Borrelia IgG and HGE agent IgG was observed in 21.1%, whereas 13.7% were HGE agent IgG positive but Borrelia IgG negative (not significant). Clinical symptoms associated with HGE were not present in seroconverting subjects.

Conclusion: Infection with the HGE agent occurs frequently in southwestern Germany but was asymptomatic in these young subjects.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / immunology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / pathogenicity
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Incidence
  • Lyme Disease / immunology
  • Lyme Disease / pathology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G