Resurrection and redescription of Varestrongylus alces (Nematoda: Protostrongylidae), a lungworm of the Eurasian moose (Alces alces), with report on associated pathology.
ABSTRACT: Varestrongylus alces, a lungworm in Eurasian moose from Europe has been considered a junior synonym of Varestrongylus capreoli, in European roe deer, due to a poorly detailed morphological description and the absence of a type-series.Specimens used in the redescription were collected from lesions in the lungs of Eurasian moose, from Vestby, Norway. Specimens were described based on comparative morphology and integrated approaches. Molecular identification was based on PCR, cloning and sequencing of the ITS-2 region of the nuclear ribosomal DNA. Phylogenetic analysis compared V. alces ITS-2 sequences to these of other Varestrongylus species and other protostrongylids.Varestrongylus alces is resurrected for protostrongylid nematodes of Eurasian moose from Europe. Varestrongylus alces causes firm nodular lesions that are clearly differentiated from the adjacent lung tissue. Histologically, lesions are restricted to the parenchyma with adult, egg and larval parasites surrounded by multinucleated giant cells, macrophages, eosinophilic granulocytes, lymphocytes. The species is valid and distinct from others referred to Varestrongylus, and should be separated from V. capreoli. Morphologically, V. alces can be distinguished from other species by characters in the males that include a distally bifurcated gubernaculum, arched denticulate crura, spicules that are equal in length and relatively short, and a dorsal ray that is elongate and bifurcated. Females have a well-developed provagina, and are very similar to those of V. capreoli. Morphometrics of first-stage larvae largely overlap with those of other Varestrongylus. Sequences of the ITS-2 region strongly support mutual independence of V. alces, V. cf. capreoli, and the yet undescribed species of Varestrongylus from North American ungulates. These three taxa form a well-supported crown-clade as the putative sister of V. alpenae. The association of V. alces and Alces or its ancestors is discussed in light of host and parasite phylogeny and host historical biogeography.Varestrongylus alces is a valid species, and should be considered distinct from V. capreoli. Phylogenetic relationships among Varestrongylus spp. from Eurasia and North America are complex and consistent with faunal assembly involving recurrent events of geographic expansion, host switching and subsequent speciation.
Project description:A putative new species of Varestrongylus has been recently recognized in wild North American ungulates based on the ITS-2 sequences of larvae isolated from feces during a wide geographic survey. No taxonomic description was provided, as adult specimens were not examined.Lungworm specimens were collected in the terminal bronchioles of muskoxen from Quebec, and a woodland caribou from central Alberta, Canada. The L3 stage was recovered from experimentally infected slugs (Deroceras spp.). Description of specimens was based on comparative morphology and integrated approaches. Molecular identity was determined by PCR and sequencing of the ITS-2 region of the nuclear ribosomal DNA, and compared to other protostrongylids.Varestrongylus eleguneniensis sp. n. is established for a recently discovered protostrongylid nematode found in caribou (Rangifer tarandus), muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) and moose (Alces americanus); hosts that collectively occupy an extensive geographic range across northern North America. Adults of Varestrongylus eleguneniensis are distinguished from congeners by a combination of characters in males (distally bifurcate gubernaculum, relatively short equal spicules not split distally, a strongly elongate and bifurcate dorsal ray, and an undivided copulatory bursa) and females (reduced provagina with hood-like fold extending ventrally across prominent genital protuberance). Third-stage larvae resemble those found among other species in the genus. The genus Varestrongylus is emended to account for the structure of the dorsal ray characteristic of V. eleguneniensis, V. alpenae, V. alces and V. longispiculatus.Herein we describe and name V. eleguneniensis, a pulmonary protostrongylid with Rangifer tarandus as a primary definitive host, and which secondarily infects muskoxen and moose in areas of sympatry. Biogeographic history for V. eleguneniensis and V. alpenae, the only two endemic species of Varestrongylus known from North America, appears consistent with independent events of geographic expansion with cervid hosts from Eurasia into North America during the late Pliocene and Quaternary.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) became extinct over large areas of Britain during the post mediaeval period but following re-introductions from Europe during the 1800s and early 1900s the population started to recover and in recent decades there has been a spectacular increase. Many roe deer are shot in Britain each year but despite this there is little published information on the diseases and causes of mortality of roe deer in Great Britain. CASE PRESENTATION:The lungs of two hunter-shot roe deer in Cornwall showed multiple, raised, nodular lesions associated with numerous protostrongylid-type nematode eggs and first stage larvae. There was a pronounced inflammatory cell response (mostly macrophages, eosinophils and multinucleate giant cells) and smooth muscle hypertrophy of the smaller bronchioles. The morphology of the larvae was consistent with that of a Varestrongylus species and sequencing of an internal transcribed spacer-2 fragment confirmed 100% identity with a published Norwegian Varestrongylus cf. capreoli sequence. To the best of the authors' knowledge this is the first confirmed record of V. capreoli in Great Britain. Co-infection with an adult protostrongylid, identified by DNA sequencing as Varestrongylus sagittatus, was also demonstrated in one case. CONCLUSIONS:Parasitic pneumonia is regarded as a common cause of mortality in roe deer and is typically attributed to infection with Dictyocaulus sp. This study has shown that Varestrongylus capreoli also has the capability to cause significant lung pathology in roe deer and heavy infection could be of clinical significance.
Project description:Varestrongylus eleguneniensis (Nematoda; Protostrongylidae) is a recently described species of lungworm that infects caribou (Rangifer tarandus), muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) and moose (Alces americanus) across northern North America. Herein we explore the geographic distribution of V. eleguneniensis through geographically extensive sampling and discuss the biogeography of this multi-host parasite. We analyzed fecal samples of three caribou subspecies (n = 1485), two muskox subspecies (n = 159), and two moose subspecies (n = 264) from across northern North America. Protostrongylid dorsal-spined larvae (DSL) were found in 23.8%, 73.6%, and 4.2% of these ungulates, respectively. A portion of recovered DSL were identified by genetic analyses of the ITS-2 region of the nuclear rDNA or the cytochrome oxidase c subunit I (COI) region of the mtDNA. We found V. eleguneniensis widely distributed among caribou and muskox populations across most of their geographic prange in North America but it was rare in moose. Parelaphostrongylus andersoni was present in caribou and moose and we provide new geographic records for this species. This study provides a substantial expansion of the knowledge defining the current distribution and biogeography of protostrongylid nematodes in northern ungulates. Insights about the host and geographic range of V. eleguneniensis can serve as a geographically extensive baseline for monitoring current distribution and in anticipating future biogeographic scenarios under a regime of accelerating climate and anthropogenic perturbation.
Project description:BACKGROUND: During the past decade, Chorioptes mites occupying the outer ear canals have been a common finding at routine necropsies of moose (Alces alces) in Sweden, but neither the taxonomy of the mites nor lesions from the infestation have been investigated. In this study, the mites are characterized by morphological and molecular techniques, and the histopathology of the skin of the outer ear canal is described. METHODS: External auditory meatuses from 53 necropsied moose were examined for the presence of Chorioptes, and samples from outer ear canals were taken for histopathological and microbiological examination. A proportion of the mites from each moose was identified to species. The DNA was extracted from mites from three moose, and their ITS-2 sequences were determined; these sequences were compared phylogenetically to sequences from other Chorioptes taxa. RESULTS: Chorioptes mites were found in 43 (81%) of the 53 moose. The mites had morphological and genetic characteristics distinct from those of C. texanus and C. bovis, the two species generally accepted within the genus. Morphology also did not argue for a diagnosis as C. crewei, C. mydaus or C. panda. On histopathology, lesions were characterized by a hyperplastic perivascular to interstitial dermatitis with epidermal hyperkeratosis and crust formation. Dermal inflammatory infiltrates were composed of mixed T- and B-lymphocytes, plasma cells and macrophages, whereas eosinophils were notably uncommon. Staphylococcus aureus was grown from the infested epidermis of five of 14 examined moose. CONCLUSION: Chorioptes mite infestation was frequently detected in the outer ear canals of moose in Sweden. The mites were evidently pathogenic, being associated with inflammatory lesions of the external auditory meatus. Our studies indicate infestations with a previously undescribed Chorioptes species.
Project description:A wild moose (Alces alces) calf was presented for necropsy due to severe neurologic signs. Histopathologic examination revealed multisystemic inflammation with intralesional mature and immature schizonts. Schizonts in the brain reacted positively to Sarcocystis spp. polyclonal antibodies. Gene sequencing of PCR-amplified DNA identified the species as Sarcocystis alceslatrans.
Project description:Hepatitis E virus (HEV), a major cause of viral hepatitis worldwide, is considered an emerging foodborne zoonosis in Europe. Pigs (<i>Sus scrofa domestica</i>) and wild boars (<i>S. scrofa</i>) are recognized as important HEV reservoirs. Additionally, HEV infection and exposure have been described in cervids. In Norway, HEV has been identified in pigs and humans; however, little is known regarding its presence in wild ungulates in the country. We used a species-independent double-antigen sandwich ELISA to detect antibodies against HEV in the sera of 715 wild ungulates from Norway, including 164 moose (<i>Alces alces</i>), 186 wild Eurasian tundra reindeer (<i>Rangifer tarandus tarandus</i>), 177 red deer (<i>Cervus elaphus</i>), 86 European roe deer (<i>Capreolus capreolus</i>), and 102 muskoxen (<i>Ovibos moschatus</i>). The overall seroprevalence was 12.3% (88/715). Wild reindeer had the highest seropositivity (23.1%, 43/186), followed by moose (19.5%, 32/164), muskoxen (5.9%, 6/102), and red deer (4%, 7/177). All roe deer were negative. According to our results, HEV is circulating in wild ungulates in Norway. The high seroprevalence observed in wild reindeer and moose indicates that these species may be potential reservoirs of HEV. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of HEV exposure in reindeer from Europe and in muskoxen worldwide.
Project description:Infections with Bartonella spp. have been recognized as emerging zoonotic diseases in humans. Large knowledge gaps exist, however, relating to reservoirs, vectors, and transmission of these bacteria. We describe identification by culture, PCR, and housekeeping gene sequencing of Bartonella spp. in fed, wingless deer keds (Lipoptena cervi), deer ked pupae, and blood samples collected from moose, Alces alces, sampled within the deer ked distribution range in Norway. Direct sequencing from moose blood sampled in a deer ked-free area also indicated Bartonella infection but at a much lower prevalence. The sequencing data suggested the presence of mixed infections involving two species of Bartonella within the deer ked range, while moose outside the range appeared to be infected with a single species. Bartonella were not detected or cultured from unfed winged deer keds. The results may indicate that long-term bacteremia in the moose represents a reservoir of infection and that L. cervi acts as a vector for the spread of infection of Bartonella spp. Further research is needed to evaluate the role of L. cervi in the transmission of Bartonella to animals and humans and the possible pathogenicity of these bacteria for humans and animals.
Project description:Chronic wasting disease (CWD) persists in cervid populations of North America and in 2016 was detected for the first time in Europe in a wild reindeer in Norway. We report the detection of CWD in 3 moose (Alces alces) in Norway, identified through a large scale surveillance program. The cases occurred in 13-14-year-old female moose, and we detected an abnormal form of prion protein (PrPSc) in the brain but not in lymphoid tissues. Immunohistochemistry revealed that the moose shared the same neuropathologic phenotype, characterized by mostly intraneuronal deposition of PrPSc. This pattern differed from that observed in reindeer and has not been previously reported in CWD-infected cervids. Moreover, Western blot revealed a PrPSc type distinguishable from previous CWD cases and from known ruminant prion diseases in Europe, with the possible exception of sheep CH1641. These findings suggest that these cases in moose represent a novel type of CWD.
Project description:SUMMARY: The occurrence of Anaplasma phagocytophilum was investigated in spleen and serum samples from Swedish moose (Alces alces) in southern Sweden (island and mainland). Samples were analysed for presence of A. phagocytophilum DNA by real-time PCR (n = 263), and for Anaplasma antibodies with ELISA serology (n = 234). All serum samples had antibodies against A. phagocytophilum. The mean DNA-based prevalence was 26·3%, and significant (P < 0·01) temporal, and spatial variation was found. Island moose had significantly (P < 0·001) higher prevalence of A. phagocytophilum DNA than moose from the mainland areas. Two samples were sequenced to determine genetic variation in the 16S rRNA and groESL genes. Genetic sequence similarity with the human granulocytic anaplasmosis agent, equine granulocytic ehrlichiosis agent, and different wildlife-associated A. phagocytophilum variants were observed in the 16S rRNA and groESL genes. Our study shows that moose are exposed to A. phagocytophilum in Sweden, and represent a potential wildlife reservoir of the pathogen.
Project description:Monitoring of wild animal populations is challenging, yet reliable information about population processes is important for both management and conservation efforts. Access to molecular markers, such as SNPs, enables population monitoring through genotyping of various DNA sources. We have developed 96 high quality SNP markers for individual identification of moose (Alces alces), an economically and ecologically important top-herbivore in boreal regions. Reduced representation libraries constructed from 34 moose were high-throughput de novo sequenced, generating nearly 50 million read pairs. About 50 000 stacks of aligned reads containing one or more SNPs were discovered with the Stacks pipeline. Several quality criteria were applied on the candidate SNPs to find markers informative on the individual level and well representative for the population. An empirical validation by genotyping of sequenced individuals and additional moose, resulted in the selection of a final panel of 86 high quality autosomal SNPs. Additionally, five sex-specific SNPs and five SNPs for sympatric species diagnostics are included in the panel. The genotyping error rate was 0.002 for the total panel and probability of identities were low enough to separate individuals with high confidence. Moreover, the autosomal SNPs were highly informative also for population level analyses. The potential applications of this SNP panel are thus many including investigations of population size, sex ratios, relatedness, reproductive success and population structure. Ideally, SNP-based studies could improve today's population monitoring and increase our knowledge about moose population dynamics.