Wildlife reservoir species and genetic diversity of Anaplasma ovis (Rickettsiales: Anaplasmataceae) have been poorly characterized. Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), captured in Montana from December 2004 to January 2005, were tested for antibodies to Anaplasma spp.; the presence of A. ovis was determined by the characterization of major surface protein msp4 sequences. Anaplasma antibodies were detected in 25/180 (14%) sampled bighorn sheep and A. ovis msp4 sequences were amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequenced from 9/23 (39%) of seropositive animals. All animals were negative by PCR for the related pathogens, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Anaplasma marginale. All msp4 sequences identified in the bighorn sheep were identical and corresponded to a single A. ovis genotype that was identical to a sheep isolate reported previously from Idaho. The finding of a single genotype of A. ovis in this wild herd of bighorn sheep was in contrast to the genetic diversity reported for A. marginale in cattle herds in the western United States and worldwide. These results demonstrated that bighorn sheep may be a wildlife reservoir of A. ovis in Montana.
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Vol. 42 • No. 2