Piroplasmosis in wildlife: Babesia and Theileria affecting free-ranging ungulates and carnivores in the Italian Alps.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Piroplasmosis are among the most relevant diseases of domestic animals. Babesia is emerging as cause of tick-borne zoonosis worldwide and free-living animals are reservoir hosts of several zoonotic Babesia species. We investigated the epidemiology of Babesia spp. and Theileria spp. in wild ungulates and carnivores from Northern Italy to determine which of these apicomplexan species circulate in wildlife and their prevalence of infection. METHODS:PCR amplification of the V4 hyper-variable region of the 18S rDNA of Babesia sp./Theileria sp was carried out on spleen samples of 1036 wild animals: Roe deer Capreolus capreolus (n = 462), Red deer Cervus elaphus (n = 52), Alpine Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra (n = 36), Fallow deer Dama dama (n = 17), Wild boar Sus scrofa (n = 257), Red fox Vulpes vulpes (n = 205) and Wolf Canis lupus (n = 7). Selected positive samples were sequenced to determine the species of amplified Babesia/Theileria DNA. RESULTS:Babesia/Theileria DNA was found with a mean prevalence of 9.94% (IC95% 8.27-11.91). The only piroplasms found in carnivores was Theileria annae, which was detected in two foxes (0.98%; IC95% 0.27-3.49). Red deer showed the highest prevalence of infection (44.23%; IC95% 31.6-57.66), followed by Alpine chamois (22.22%; IC95% 11.71-38.08), Roe deer (12.55%; IC95% 9.84-15.89), and Wild boar (4.67%; IC95% 2.69-7.98). Genetic analysis identified Babesia capreoli as the most prevalent piroplasmid found in Alpine chamois, Roe deer and Red deer, followed by Babesia bigemina (found in Roe deer, Red deer and Wild boar), and the zoonotic Babesia venatorum (formerly Babesia sp. EU1) isolated from 2 Roe deer. Piroplasmids of the genus Theileria were identified in Wild boar and Red deer. CONCLUSIONS:The present study offers novel insights into the role of wildlife in Babesia/Theileria epidemiology, as well as relevant information on genetic variability of piroplasmids infecting wild ungulates and carnivores.
Project description:Knowledge about vector-borne pathogens important for human and veterinary medicine in wild ruminants in Tyrol (Austria) is scarce. Blood samples from Alpine ibex (Capra ibex; n?=?44), Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra; n?= 21), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus; n?= 18) and red deer (Cervus elaphus; n?=?6) were collected over a period of 4 years (2015-2018) in four regions in North Tyrol, with a primary focus on the Kaunertal. Blood spots on filter paper were tested for the presence of DNA of vector-borne pathogens (Anaplasmataceae, Piroplasmida, Rickettsia and filarioid helminths). Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Babesia capreoli were detected in two of 89 (2.3%) blood samples. Rickettsia spp., Theileria spp. and filarioid helminths were not documented. One Alpine chamois was positive for A. phagocytophilum and B. capreoli. Moreover, an ibex from the Kaunertal region was positive for A. phagocytophilum. While the ibex was a kid less than 1 year old, the chamois was an adult individual. Further research is recommended to evaluate effects of climate change on infection rates of North Tyrolean wild ruminants by these pathogens and the distribution of their vectors.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Free-living ungulates are hosts of ixodid ticks and reservoirs of tick-borne microorganisms in central Europe and many regions around the world. Tissue samples and engorged ticks were obtained from roe deer, red deer, fallow deer, mouflon, and wild boar hunted in deciduous forests of south-western Slovakia. DNA isolated from these samples was screened for the presence of tick-borne microorganisms by PCR-based methods. RESULTS:Ticks were found to infest all examined ungulate species. The principal infesting tick was Ixodes ricinus, identified on 90.4% of wildlife, and included all developmental stages. Larvae and nymphs of Haemaphysalis concinna were feeding on 9.6% of wildlife. Two specimens of Dermacentor reticulatus were also identified. Ungulates were positive for A. phagocytophilum and Theileria spp. Anaplasma phagocytophilum was found to infect 96.1% of cervids, 88.9% of mouflon, and 28.2% of wild boar, whereas Theileria spp. was detected only in cervids (94.6%). Importantly, a high rate of cervids (89%) showed mixed infections with both these microorganisms. In addition to A. phagocytophilum and Theileria spp., Rickettsia helvetica, R. monacensis, unidentified Rickettsia sp., Coxiella burnetii, "Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis", Borrelia burgdorferi (s.l.) and Babesia venatorum were identified in engorged I. ricinus. Furthermore, A. phagocytophilum, Babesia spp. and Theileria spp. were detected in engorged H. concinna. Analysis of 16S rRNA and groEL gene sequences revealed the presence of five and two A. phagocytophilum variants, respectively, among which sequences identified in wild boar showed identity to the sequence of the causative agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA). Phylogenetic analysis of Theileria 18S rRNA gene sequences amplified from cervids and engorged I. ricinus ticks segregated jointly with sequences of T. capreoli isolates into a moderately supported monophyletic clade. CONCLUSIONS:The findings indicate that free-living ungulates are reservoirs for A. phagocytophilum and Theileria spp. and engorged ixodid ticks attached to ungulates are good sentinels for the presence of agents of public and veterinary concern. Further analyses of the A. phagocytophilum genetic variants and Theileria species and their associations with vector ticks and free-living ungulates are required.
Project description:Babesiosis and Theileriosis are important worldwide-distributed tick-borne diseases for human and animals. Their presence in a particular area depends on the presence of suitable tick-vector and host species as well as competent reservoirs such as roe deer, one of the most abundant wild cervids in Spain. Spleen samples from 174 roe deer hunted in Spain were analysed to determine the prevalence of Babesia and Theileria species. DNA of both piroplasms was firstly detected using a commercial qPCR. Then, positive samples were molecularly characterized at the 18S rRNA and ITS1 genes of Babesia spp. and Theileria spp. The possible influence of some factors such as ecological area, age and sex was also assessed. Overall, 89.7% of roe deer were positive to any of the two piroplasms. Theileria spp. was more prevalent (60.9%) than Babesia spp. (19.0%); species identification could not be achieved in 17.3% of positive samples. Babesia prevalence was significantly higher in young animals and in roe deer from Oceanic regions, in contrast to Theileria spp. Five species were identified: Theileria sp. OT3 (60.3%), Babesia capreoli (15.5%), Babesia venatorum (2.9%), Theileria sp. 3185/02 (0.6%) and Babesia bigemina (0.6%). The coinfection B. capreoli/T. sp. OT3 was the most common (4.6%) followed by B. venatorum/T. sp. OT3 (0.6%) and B. bigemina/T. sp. OT3 (0.6%). Our results reveal that Theileria spp. and Babesia spp. are prevalent piroplasms in roe deer from Spain. These cervids can act as reservoirs for several Babesia and Theileria species, including the zoonotic B. venatorum. This study represents the first description of B. venatorum and B. bigemina in roe deer from Spain.
Project description:Data on the prevalence of piroplasms in buffaloes and large game animal species are lacking from several central European countries. Therefore, to investigate the presence of Babesia/Theileria DNA in these hosts, 239 blood and 270 spleen samples were taken from cervids (red, fallow, and roe deer), as well as from water buffaloes, mouflons, and wild boars in southwestern Hungary, followed by DNA extraction and molecular analysis for piroplasms. All samples from buffaloes and wild boars were PCR negative. Based on spleen samples, the prevalence of piroplasms was significantly higher in red deer (41.7%) than in fallow deer (23.5%). Two genotypes of Theileria capreoli were identified, which showed significant association with their host species (i.e. genotype "capreoli-CE1" was exclusively found in roe deer, whereas red and fallow deer harbored only genotype "elaphi-CE1"). Genotype "elaphi-CE1" of T. capreoli was also detected in one mouflon. No Babesia spp. were identified. In conclusion, in the evaluated region, genotypes of T. capreoli show host-associations among cervids, and at least one of these genotypes may infect mouflons.
Project description:Babesia are tick-borne parasites that are increasingly considered as a threat to animal and public health. We aimed to assess the role of European free-ranging wild ruminants as maintenance mammalian hosts for Babesia species and to determine risk factors for infection. EDTA blood was collected from 222 roe deer (Capreolus c. capreolus), 231 red deer (Cervus e. elaphus), 267 Alpine chamois (Rupicapra r. rupicapra) and 264 Alpine ibex (Capra i. ibex) from all over Switzerland and analysed by PCR with pan-Babesia primers targeting the 18S rRNA gene, primers specific for B. capreoli and Babesia sp. EU1, and by sequencing. Babesia species, including B. divergens, B. capreoli, Babesia sp. EU1, Babesia sp. CH1 and B. motasi, were detected in 10.7% of all samples. Five individuals were co-infected with two Babesia species. Infection with specific Babesia varied widely between host species. Cervidae were significantly more infected with Babesia spp. than Caprinae. Babesia capreoli and Babesia sp. EU1 were mostly found in roe deer (prevalences 17.1% and 7.7%, respectively) and B. divergens and Babesia sp. CH1 only in red deer. Factors significantly associated with infection were low altitude and young age. Identification of Babesia sp. CH1 in red deer, co-infection with multiple Babesia species and infection of wild Caprinae with B. motasi and Babesia sp. EU1 are novel findings. We propose wild Caprinae as spillover or accidental hosts for Babesia species but wild Cervidae as mammalian reservoir hosts for B. capreoli, possibly Babesia sp. EU1 and Babesia sp. CH1, whereas their role regarding B. divergens is more elusive.
Project description:Wildlife can act as reservoir of different tick-borne pathogens, such as bacteria, parasites and viruses. The aim of the present study was to assess the presence of tick-borne bacteria and protozoa with veterinary and zoonotic importance in cervids and wild boars from the Centre and South of Portugal.One hundred and forty one blood samples from free-ranging ungulates including 73 red deer (Cervus elaphus), 65 wild boars (Sus scrofa) and three fallow deer (Dama dama) were tested for the presence of Anaplasma marginale/A. ovis, A. phagocytophilum, Anaplasma/Ehrlichia spp., Babesia/Theileria spp., Borrelia burgdorferi (sensu lato) (s.l.), and Rickettsia spp. DNA by PCR.Anaplasma spp. DNA was detected in 33 (43.4 %) cervids (31 red deer and two fallow deer) and in two (3.1 %) wild boars while Theileria spp. were found in 34 (44.7 %) cervids (32 red deer and two fallow deer) and in three (4.6 %) wild boar blood samples. Sequence analysis of msp4 sequences identified A. marginale, A. ovis, while the analysis of rDNA sequence data disclosed the presence of A. platys and A. phagocytophilum and T. capreoli and Theileria sp. OT3. Anaplasma spp./Theileria spp. mixed infections were found in 17 cervids (22.4 %) and in two wild boars (3.1 %). All samples were negative for Babesia sp., B. burgdorferi (s.l.), Ehrlichia sp. or Rickettsia sp.This is the first detection of Anaplasma marginale, A. ovis, A. phagocytophilum, A. platys, Theileria capreoli and Theileria sp. OT3 in cervids and wild boars from Portugal. Further studies concerning the potential pathogenicity of the different species of Anaplasma and Theileria infecting wild ungulates, the identification of their vector range, and their putative infectivity to domestic livestock and humans should be undertaken.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The role of wildlife as a brucellosis reservoir for humans and domestic livestock remains to be properly established. The aim of this work was to determine the aetiology, apparent prevalence, spatial distribution and risk factors for brucellosis transmission in several Iberian wild ungulates.<h4>Methods</h4>A multi-species indirect immunosorbent assay (iELISA) using Brucella S-LPS antigen was developed. In several regions having brucellosis in livestock, individual serum samples were taken between 1999 and 2009 from 2,579 wild bovids, 6,448 wild cervids and4,454 Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa), and tested to assess brucellosis apparent prevalence. Strains isolated from wild boar were characterized to identify the presence of markers shared with the strains isolated from domestic pigs.<h4>Results</h4>Mean apparent prevalence below 0.5% was identified in chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica), Iberian wild goat (Capra pyrenaica), and red deer (Cervus elaphus). Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), fallow deer (Dama dama), mouflon (Ovis aries) and Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) tested were seronegative. Only one red deer and one Iberian wild goat resulted positive in culture, isolating B. abortus biovar 1 and B. melitensis biovar 1, respectively. Apparent prevalence in wild boar ranged from 25% to 46% in the different regions studied, with the highest figures detected in South-Central Spain. The probability of wild boar being positive in the iELISA was also affected by age, age-by-sex interaction, sampling month, and the density of outdoor domestic pigs. A total of 104 bacterial isolates were obtained from wild boar, being all identified as B. suis biovar 2. DNA polymorphisms were similar to those found in domestic pigs.<h4>Conclusions</h4>In conclusion, brucellosis in wild boar is widespread in the Iberian Peninsula, thus representing an important threat for domestic pigs. By contrast, wild ruminants were not identified as a significant brucellosis reservoir for livestock.
Project description:Concurrent infections with vector-borne pathogens affected a cattle herd in Switzerland, and one of the pathogens was identified as Babesia bigemina, which had never been observed in this country before. Therefore, a survey of the occurrence of ruminant Babesia spp. and their tick vectors in Switzerland was conducted. A total of 2,017 ticks were collected from sheep, goats, cattle, and wild ruminants (deer, roe deer, and chamois) in southern parts of Switzerland and identified morphologically. The vast majority of the ticks (99.2%) were Ixodes ricinus, but 14 ticks from sheep and goats were identified as Dermacentor marginatus and two ticks from wild ruminants were identified as Hemaphysalis punctata. PCR analyses of 700 ticks revealed the presence of Babesia divergens (n = 6), Babesia sp. genotype EU1 (n = 14), and B. major (n = 2), whose suggested occurrence was confirmed in this study by molecular analysis, and the presence of novel Babesia sp. genotype CH1 (n = 4), which is closely related to B. odocoilei and to Babesia sp. genotype RD61 reported from North America. The identification of B. divergens and B. major in ticks collected from wild ruminants cast doubt on the postulated strict host specificity of these bovine Babesia species. Furthermore, the zoonotic Babesia sp. genotype EU1 was detected in ticks collected from domestic animals but was obtained predominantly from ticks collected from wild ruminants. More than one tick containing DNA of different Babesia spp. were collected from two red deer. Hence, the role of these game animals as reservoir hosts of Babesia spp. seems to be important but requires further investigation.
Project description:(1) Background: Wild cervids play an important role in transmission cycles of tick-borne pathogens; however, investigations of tick-borne pathogens in sika deer in Germany are lacking. (2) Methods: Spleen tissue of 74 sympatric wild cervids (30 roe deer, 7 fallow deer, 22 sika deer, 15 red deer) and of 27 red deer from a farm from southeastern Germany were analyzed by molecular methods for the presence of <i>Anaplasma phagocytophilum</i> and <i>Babesia</i> species. (3) Results: <i>Anaplasma phagocytophilum</i> and <i>Babesia</i> DNA was demonstrated in 90.5% and 47.3% of the 74 combined wild cervids and 14.8% and 18.5% of the farmed deer, respectively. Twelve <i>16S rRNA</i> variants of <i>A. phagocytophilum</i> were delineated. While the infection rate for <i>A. phagocytophilum</i> among the four cervid species was similar (71.4% to 100%), it varied significantly for <i>Babesia</i> between roe deer (73.3%), fallow deer (14.3%), sika deer (27.3%) and red deer (40.0%). Deer ?2 years of age tested significantly more often positive than the older deer for both <i>A. phagocytophilum</i> and <i>Babesia</i> species. (4) Conclusions: This study confirms the widespread occurrence of <i>A. phagocytophilum</i> and <i>Babesia</i> species in wild cervids and farmed red deer in Germany and documents the co-occurrence of the two tick-borne pathogens in free-ranging sika deer.
Project description:Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Babesia spp. are causative agents of tick-borne infections that are increasingly considered as a threat to animal and public health. To assess the role of cervids in the maintenance of zoonotic pathogens in Norway, we investigated the prevalence of A. phagocytophilum and Babesia spp. in free-ranging roe deer and red deer. Initial screening of spleen samples of 104 animals by multiplex real-time PCR targeting the major surface protein (msp2) gene and 18S rRNA revealed the presence of A. phagocytophilum infection in 81.1% red deer (Cervus elaphus) and 88.1% roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), and Babesia spp. parasites in 64.9% red deer and 83.6% roe deer, respectively. Co-infections were found in 62.2% red deer and 79.9% roe deer. Nested PCR and sequence analysis of partial msp4 and 18S rRNA genes were performed for molecular characterization of A. phagocytophilum strains and Babesia species. A total of eleven A. phagocytophilum msp4 gene sequence variants were identified: five different variants were 100% identical to corresponding A. phagocytophilum sequences deposited in the GenBank database, while other six sequence variants had unique nucleotide polymorphisms. Sequence analysis of the 18S rRNA gene demonstrated the presence of multiple Babesia species, including Babesia capreoli, Babesia divergens, Babesia venatorum and Babesia odocoilei/Babesia cf. odocoilei. This study is the first report demonstrating the prevalence and molecular characterization of A. phagocytophilum strains and Babesia species in roe deer and red deer in Norway. The high infection and co-infection rates with A. phagocytophilum and Babesia spp. in red deer and roe deer suggest that these cervids may play an important role in the transmission of single and multiple pathogens.