Identification and genetic characterization of Sarcocystis arctica and Sarcocystis lutrae in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) from Baltic States and Spain.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Typically, carnivores serve as definitive hosts for Sarcocystis spp. parasites; currently, their role as intermediate hosts is being elucidated. The present study aimed to identify and molecularly characterize Sarcocystis cysts detected in striated muscle of red foxes from different populations in Latvia, Lithuania and Spain. METHODS:Muscle samples from 411 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and 269 racoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) from Latvia, 41 red foxes from Lithuania and 22 red foxes from Spain were examined for the presence of Sarcocystis sarcocysts by light microscopy (LM). Sarcocystis spp. were identified by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and molecular biology techniques. RESULTS:Sarcocystis cysts were detected in 11/411 (2.7%) Latvian, 3/41 (7.3%) Lithuanian, and 6/22 (27.3%) Spanish red foxes, however, cysts were not observed in the muscles of racoon dogs. Based on LM, TEM, 18S rDNA, 28S rDNA, ITS1, cox1 and rpoB sequences, Sarcocystis arctica and Sarcocystis lutrae cysts were identified in red fox muscles from Latvia and Lithuania, whereas only S. arctica was detected in Spain. The 18S rDNA, 28S rDNA and ITS1 sequences from the 21 isolates of S. arctica from Latvia, Lithuania and Spain were identical. By contrast, two and four haplotypes were determined based on mtDNA cox1 and apicoplast rpoB sequences, respectively. Polymorphisms were not detected between the two isolates of S. lutrae from Latvia and Lithuania. Based on phylogenetic results, S. arctica and S. lutrae were most closely related to Sarcocystis spp. using predatory mammals as intermediate hosts and to Sarcocystis species with a bird-bird life-cycle. CONCLUSIONS:Based on current knowledge, the red fox and Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) could act as intermediate host for the same two Sarcocystis species. Molecular results suggest the existence of two genetic lineages of S. arctica, and such divergence relies on its geographical distribution but not on their intermediate host species.
Project description:Rabies is a fatal zoonosis that still causes nearly 70, 000 human deaths every year. In Europe, the oral rabies vaccination (ORV) of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) was developed in the late 1970s and has demonstrated its effectiveness in the eradication of the disease in Western and some Central European countries. Following the accession of the three Baltic countries--Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania--to the European Union in 2004, subsequent financial support has allowed the implementation of regular ORV campaigns since 2005-2006. This paper reviews ten years of surveillance efforts and ORV campaigns in these countries resulting in the near eradication of the disease. The various factors that may have influenced the results of vaccination monitoring were assessed using generalized linear models (GLMs) on bait uptake and on herd immunity. As shown in previous studies, juveniles had lower bait uptake level than adults. For the first time, raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) were shown to have significantly lower bait uptake proportion compared with red foxes. This result suggests potentially altered ORV effectiveness in this invasive species compared to the red foxes. An extensive phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that the North-East European (NEE) rabies phylogroup is endemic in all three Baltic countries. Although successive oral vaccination campaigns have substantially reduced the number of detected rabies cases, sporadic detection of the C lineage (European part of Russian phylogroup) underlines the risk of reintroduction via westward spread from bordering countries. Vaccine induced cases were also reported for the first time in non-target species (Martes martes and Meles meles).
Project description:Sarcocysts of various Sarcocystis spp. are highly prevalent in wild sika deer, Cervus nippon yesoensis, in Hokkaido, Japan, and four species have been identified based on morphological and molecular characteristics: S. ovalis, S. pilosa, S. tarandi-like, and S. truncata-like. The definitive hosts of S. ovalis are corvids, but the hosts of the other species have not yet been identified. Aiming to determine the definitive hosts of these species, we collected 65 red fox (Vulpes vulpes schrencki) fecal samples in eastern Hokkaido and examined them for fecal sporocysts using a modified sucrose flotation method. One fecal sample contained typical Sarcocystis sporocysts, which were identified as S. pilosa based on 18S ribosomal RNA and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene sequences. This is the first identification of S. pilosa sporocysts in the wild. These findings indicate that red foxes serve as a definitive host of S. pilosa, and that red foxes constitute a source of S. pilosa infection for deer in Hokkaido.
Project description:Red deer (Cervus elaphus) carcasses showing grey-greenish discolouration have been increasingly observed in the canton of Grisons, Switzerland. We investigated whether Sarcocystis infections were associated with this pathology, and whether wild and domestic canids were involved in their transmission. Meat from affected red deer (n = 26), faeces and intestines from red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) (n = 126), and faeces from hunting dogs (n = 12) from the region, were analysed. Eosinophilic myositis and/or fasciitis were diagnosed in 69% of the deer, and sarcocysts were observed in 89% of the animals. Molecular typing targeting a ~700bp variable region of the 18S rRNA gene revealed Sarcocystis hjorti in 73%, S. venatoria/S. iberica in 54%, S. linearis/S. taeniata in 12%, S. pilosa in 8% and S. ovalis in 4% of the deer samples. No inflammatory changes were observed in red deer carcasses with normal appearance (n = 8); however, sarcocysts were observed in one sample, and S. hjorti, S. venatoria/S. iberica or S. silva DNA was detected in five samples. Sarcocystis oocysts/sporocysts were observed in 11/106 faecal and 6/20 intestinal fox samples, and in 2/12 canine samples. Sarcocystis tenella (n = 8), S. hjorti (n = 2), S. gracilis (n = 2), and S. miescheriana (n = 1) were identified in foxes, and S. gracilis (n = 2), S. capreolicanis (n = 1) and S. linearis/S. taeniata (n = 1) in dogs. This study provides first molecular evidence of S. pilosa and S. silva infection in red deer and S. linearis/S. taeniata in dogs and represents the first record of S. ovalis transmitted by corvids in Central Europe. Although Sarcocystis species infecting red deer are not regarded as zoonotic, the affected carcasses can be declared as unfit for human consumption due to the extensive pathological changes.
Project description:The recent recolonization of Central Europe by the European gray wolf (Canis lupus) provides an opportunity to study the dynamics of parasite transmission for cases when a definitive host returns after a phase of local extinction. We investigated whether a newly established wolf population increased the prevalence of those parasites in ungulate intermediate hosts representing wolf prey, whether some parasite species are particularly well adapted to wolves, and the potential basis for such adaptations. We recorded Sarcocystis species richness in wolves and Sarcocystis prevalence in ungulates harvested in study sites with and without permanent wolf presence in Germany using microscopy and DNA metabarcoding. Sarcocystis prevalence in red deer (Cervus elaphus) was significantly higher in wolf areas (79.7%) than in control areas (26.3%) but not in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) (97.2% vs. 90.4%) or wild boar (Sus scrofa) (82.8% vs. 64.9%). Of 11 Sarcocystis species, Sarcocystis taeniata and Sarcocystis grueneri occurred more often in wolves than expected from the Sarcocystis infection patterns of ungulate prey. Both Sarcocystis species showed a higher increase in prevalence in ungulates in wolf areas than other Sarcocystis species, suggesting that they are particularly well adapted to wolves, and are examples of "wolf specialists". Sarcocystis species richness in wolves was significantly higher in pups than in adults. "Wolf specialists" persisted during wolf maturation. The results of this study demonstrate that (1) predator-prey interactions influence parasite prevalence, if both predator and prey are part of the parasite life cycle, (2) mesopredators do not necessarily replace the apex predator in parasite transmission dynamics for particular parasites of which the apex predator is the definitive host, even if meso- and apex predators were from the same taxonomic family (here: Canidae, e.g., red foxes Vulpes vulpes), and (3) age-dependent immune maturation contributes to the control of protozoan infection in wolves.
Project description:There are several reports of Sarcocystis sarcocysts in muscles of dogs, but these species have not been named. Additionally, there are two reports of Sarcocystis neurona in dogs. Here, we propose two new names, Sarcocystis caninum, and Sarcocystis svanai for sarcocysts associated with clinical muscular sarcocystosis in four domestic dogs (Canis familiaris), one each from Montana and Colorado in the USA, and two from British Columbia, Canada. Only the sarcocyst stage was identified. Most of the sarcocysts identified were S. caninum. Sarcocysts were studied using light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and polymerase chain reaction. Based on collective results two new species, S. caninum and S. svanai were designated. Sarcocystis caninum and S. svanai were structurally distinct. Sarcocystis caninum sarcocysts were up to 1.2 mm long and up to 75 ?m wide. By light microscopy, the sarcocyst wall was relatively thin and smooth. By TEM, the sarcocyst wall was "type 9", 1-2 ?m thick, and contained villar protrusions that lacked microtubules. Bradyzoites in sections were 7-9 ?m long. Sarcocysts of S. svanai were few and were identified by TEM. Sarcocystis svanai sarcocysts were "type 1", thin walled (< 0.5 ?m), and the wall lacked villar protrusions but had tiny blebs that did not invaginate. DNA was extracted either from infected frozen muscle biopsies or formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded sections. Dogs were either singly infected with S. caninum or multiply co-infected with S. caninum and S. svanai (the result of a mixed infection) based on multilocus DNA sequencing and morphology. BLASTn analysis established that the sarcocysts identified in these dogs were similar to, but not identical to Sarcocystis canis or Sarcocystis arctosi, parasites found to infect polar bears (Ursus maritimus) or brown bears (Ursus arctosi), respectively. However, the S. caninum sequence showed 100% identify over the 18S rRNA region sequenced to that of S. arctica, a parasite known to infect Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus).
Project description:Shepherd and stray dogs are thought to represent the primary definitive hosts of Coenurosis by Taenia multiceps, due to their feeding habits which translate into high chances of coming into contact with infected intermediate hosts. Nonetheless, little attention has been paid to the role of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the epidemiology of coenurosis. In fact a knowledge gap exists on the role played by red foxes in the epidemiology of Taenia multiceps and the capability of this parasite to produce fertile and viable eggs in this wild canid, i.e. on the occurrence of a sylvatic cycle. This study investigates the role of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the epidemiology of T. multiceps and related metacestodoses.The small intestine of 63 red foxes was macroscopically examined for the presence of cestodes. Adult parasites were identified morphologically as being T. multiceps. Tapeworm eggs were counted and stored at 4 °C in physiological saline solution prior to experimental infection of four sheep and one goat. Sheep were inoculated orally on Day 0 with 3000 (sheep 1), 5000 (sheep 2 and 3) or 7000 eggs (sheep 4), while the goat was infected with 5000 eggs of T. multiceps. The animals were followed-up regularly by MRI and underwent surgical treatment between days 180 to day 240 post infection. Collected coenuri were identified using morphological and molecular methods.A total of 6.3 % of red foxes were found infected with T. multiceps and the eggs obtained from the worms were determined to have a viability of 45.4 %. Two of the challenged sheep and the goat developed disease compatible with T. multiceps. Morphometrical features of the cysts were consistent with those of T. multiceps; nucleotide amplification and sequencing of mitochondrial genes (i.e., cox1 and Nd1) from the metacestode material confirmed the identification.The present study is the first to provide evidence of the role of the red fox as a competent definitive host for T. multiceps, thus changing the epidemiological scenarios of infections by this cestode.
Project description:Crown shape variation of the first lower molar in the arctic (Vulpes lagopus) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) was analyzed using five groups of morphotypes. Carnassial morphologies were compared between the species and between spatially and temporally distant populations: one Late Pleistocene (n = 45) and seven modern populations of the arctic fox (n = 259), and one Late Pleistocene (n = 35) and eight modern populations of the red fox (n = 606). The dentition of Holocene red foxes had larger morphotype variability than that of arctic foxes. The lower carnassials of the red fox kept have some primitive characters (additional cusps and stylids, complex shape of transverse cristid), whereas the first lower molars of the arctic fox have undergone crown shape simplification, with the occlusal part of the tooth undergoing a more pronounced adaptation to a more carnivorous diet. From the Late Pleistocene of Belgium to the present days, the arctic fox's crown shape has been simplified and some primitive characters have disappeared. In the red fox chronological changes in the morphology of the lower carnassials were not clearly identified. The phyletic tree based on morphotype carnassial characteristics indicated the distinctiveness of both foxes: in the arctic fox line, the ancient population from Belgium and recent Greenland made separate branches, whereas in the red foxes the ancient population from Belgium was most similar to modern red foxes from Belgium and Italy.
Project description:Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are susceptible to viral diseases of domestic carnivores. In this study, by screening rectal swabs collected from 34 red foxes in Italy, we identified kobuvirus RNA in five samples. Based on analysis of partial RdRp and full-length VP1 genes, all of the strains shared the highest identity with canine kobuviruses (CaKVs) recently detected in the US, the UK and Italy. These findings provide the first evidence of the circulation of these novel viruses in foxes.
Project description:Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are one of the most widespread wild carnivores in the world, being recognized to harbor and transmit a wide range of vector-borne diseases. Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato are zoonotic tick-borne pathogens causing emerging diseases. Wild animals play an essential role in the transmission of diseases and pathogens maintenance in nature. Epidemiological studies regarding the prevalence of tick-borne pathogens in red foxes are of public health importance, as they may successfully act as a pathogen transmission interface between wildlife, domestic animals and humans.This study included 14 counties from Romania. A total number of 353 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were examined. Heart tissue samples were collected during necropsy and stored at -20 °C. Genomic DNA extraction was performed and all samples were examined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Specific primers for A. phagocytophilum, A. platys, E. canis and Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. were used. Sequence analysis was performed (Macrogen Europe, Amsterdam) and obtained sequences are available at GenBank™. Out of the 353 samples, 9 (2.55 %; 95 % CI: 1.25-4.96 %) were positive for A. phagocytophilum. Positive animals originated from 5 counties. In total, 5 out of 353 heart tissue samples (1.42 %; 95 % CI: 0.52-3.47 %) collected from red foxes were positive for B. burgdorferi s.l. Red foxes originated from 4 counties. None of the samples were positive for A. platys or E. canis. No co-infection with A. phagocytophilum and B. burgdorferi s.l. was found.This first report of A. phagocytophilum and B. burgdorferi s.l. in red foxes from Romania suggests a limited role of foxes in the maintenance of the two related pathogens, but may represent a potential risk from a public health perspective.
Project description:Canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1) causes infectious canine hepatitis (ICH), a frequently fatal disease which primarily affects canids. In this study, serology (ELISA) and molecular techniques (PCR/qPCR) were utilised to investigate the exposure of free-ranging red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) to CAV-1 in the United Kingdom (UK) and to examine their role as a wildlife reservoir of infection for susceptible species. The role of canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2), primarily a respiratory pathogen, was also explored. In foxes with no evidence of ICH on post-mortem examination, 29 of 154 (18.8%) red foxes had inapparent infections with CAV-1, as detected by a nested PCR, in a range of samples, including liver, kidney, spleen, brain, and lung. CAV-1 was detected in the urine of three red foxes with inapparent infections. It was estimated that 302 of 469 (64.4%) red foxes were seropositive for canine adenovirus (CAV) by ELISA. CAV-2 was not detected by PCR in any red foxes examined. Additional sequence data were obtained from CAV-1 positive samples, revealing regional variations in CAV-1 sequences. It is concluded that CAV-1 is endemic in free-ranging red foxes in the UK and that many foxes have inapparent infections in a range of tissues.