Immunoserologic evidence of Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis in Danish patients with Lyme neuroborreliosis

Scand J Infect Dis. 1998;30(2):173-6. doi: 10.1080/003655498750003582.


Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis (HGE) is a recently described human illness in the US which manifests as fever, myalgia and headache combined with pancytopenia and elevated concentrations of hepatic transaminases. Genetic analyses indicate that the agent of HGE appears to be an Ehrlichia species that is closely related to E. equi and E. phagocytophila. Ixodes dammini and I. scapularis were identified as potential vectors of HGE. Ixodes ticks are also the vector of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme borreliosis. The presence of antibodies against Ehrlichia in 132 sera from Danish patients with definite Lyme neuroborreliosis were examined in order to provide immunoserologic evidence of this infection in Denmark. Patients with Lyme neuroborreliosis were chosen as a test cohort, as these patients had been infested by a tick sufficient for transmission of B. burgdorferi. All had cerebrospinal fluid lymphocytic pleocytosis. As controls, serum samples from 50 healthy Danish blood donors were included. Of the 132 patients with Lyme neuroborreliosis, 5 (3.8%) reacted with the E. equi antigen substrate at titres 1:128. None of the blood donors were found seropositive for E. equi. At least 2 of the patients found seropositive for HGE constituted probable cases of HGE with E. equi antibody titres of at least 80 combined with fever, headache and myalgias. However, in no cases were we able to detect the presence of the HGE agent in the serum by PCR. We conclude that human exposure to granulocytic Ehrlichiae species may also occur in Europe, although further studies will be necessary to document active infection with these potential pathogens.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Arachnid Vectors*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / isolation & purification
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Ehrlichia / immunology
  • Ehrlichia / isolation & purification*
  • Ehrlichiosis / diagnosis
  • Ehrlichiosis / epidemiology*
  • Ehrlichiosis / immunology
  • Ehrlichiosis / transmission*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology*
  • Lyme Disease / immunology
  • Lyme Disease / transmission*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Serologic Tests
  • Ticks* / microbiology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial