Identification of virulence-associated antigens and plasmids in Rhodococcus equi from patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome and prevalence of virulent R. equi in soil collected from domestic animal farms in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
The prevalence of virulent Rhodococcus equi in soil collected from 17 domestic animal farms (from 12 cattle, 1 pig, and 4 horse farms) and in 6 clinical specimens from patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was investigated. The isolates were tested for the presence of 15-17-kDa antigens (VapA) and a 20-kDa antigen (VapB) by immunoblotting and for the presence of virulence plasmid DNA. Rhodococcus equi was isolated from most soil samples (68 of 80) obtained from the 17 farms, with 2.0 x 10(2) to 6.0 x 10(5) colony-forming units per gram of soil. We detected VapA in none of the 537 isolates from the soil samples. In one isolate from a pig farm, both VapB and virulence plasmid DNA were detected. Of the 6 clinical isolates from patients with AIDS, however, 4 isolates contained both VapB and virulence plasmid DNA. The remaining 2 isolates were avirulent.