Molecular evidence of kobuviruses in free-ranging red foxes (Vulpes vulpes).
ABSTRACT: 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.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Hepatozoon canis is a protozoan tick-borne pathogen of dogs and wild canids. Hepatozoon spp. have been reported to infect foxes in different continents and recent studies have mostly used the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the detection and characterization of the infecting species. Surveying red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) may contribute to better understanding the epidemiology of canine vector-borne diseases, including hepatozoonosis caused by H. canis in domestic dogs. The present study investigated the prevalence of Hepatozoon spp. by means of histopathology and molecular analysis of different tissues in red foxes from different parts of Portugal. METHODS: Blood and tissues including bone marrow, heart, hind leg muscle, jejunum, kidney, liver, lung, popliteal or axillary lymph nodes, spleen and/or tongue were collected from 91 red foxes from eight districts in northern, central and southern Portugal. Tissues were formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded, cut and stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplified a ~650 bp fragment of the 18S rRNA gene of Hepatozoon spp. and the DNA products were sequenced. RESULTS: Hepatozoon canis was detected in 68 out of 90 foxes (75.6%) from all the sampled areas by PCR and sequencing. Histopathology revealed H. canis meronts similar in shape to those found in dogs in the bone marrow of 11 (23.4%) and in the spleen of two (4.3%) out of 47 foxes (p = 0.007). All the 11 foxes found positive by histopathology were also positive by PCR of bone marrow and/or blood. Positivity by PCR (83.0%) was significantly higher (p < 0.001) than by histopathological examination (23.4%) in paired bone marrow samples from the same 47 foxes. Sequences of the 18S rRNA gene of H. canis were 98-99% identical to those in GenBank. CONCLUSIONS: Hepatozoon canis was found to be highly prevalent in red fox populations from northern, central and southern Portugal. Detection of the parasite by histopathology was significantly less sensitive than by PCR. Red foxes are a presumptive reservoir of H. canis infection for domestic dogs.
Project description:The foxes at Novosibirsk, Russia, are the only population of domesticated foxes in the world. These domesticated foxes originated from farm-bred silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes), whose genetic source is unknown. In this study we examined the origin of the domesticated strain of foxes and two other farm-bred fox populations (aggressive and unselected) maintained in Novosibirsk. To identify the phylogenetic origin of these populations we sequenced two regions of mtDNA, cytochrome b and D-loop, from 24 Novosibirsk foxes (8 foxes from each population) and compared them with corresponding sequences of native red foxes from Europe, Asia, Alaska and Western Canada, Eastern Canada, and the Western Mountains of the USA. We identified seven cytochrome b - D-loop haplotypes in Novosibirsk populations, four of which were previously observed in Eastern North America. The three remaining haplotypes differed by one or two base change from the most common haplotype in Eastern Canada. ?(ST) analysis showed significant differentiation between Novosibirsk populations and red fox populations from all geographic regions except Eastern Canada. No haplotypes of Eurasian origin were identified in the Novosibirsk populations. These results are consistent with historical records indicating that the original breeding stock of farm-bred foxes originated from Prince Edward Island, Canada. Mitochondrial DNA data together with historical records indicate two stages in the selection of domesticated foxes: the first includes captive breeding for ~50 years with unconscious selection for behaviour; the second corresponds to over 50 further years of intensive selection for tame behaviour.
Project description: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:Home range size is a fundamental concept for understanding animal dispersion and ecological needs, and it is one of the most commonly reported ecological attributes of free-ranging mammals. Previous studies indicate that red foxes Vulpes vulpes display great variability in home range size. Yet, there has been little consensus regarding the reasons why home range sizes of red foxes vary so extensively. In this study, we examine possible causes of variation in red fox home range sizes using data from 52 GPS collared red foxes from four study areas representing a gradient of landscape productivity and human landscape alteration in Norway and Sweden. Using 90% Local Convex Hull home range estimates, we examined how red fox home range size varied in relation to latitude, elevation, vegetation zone, proportion of agricultural land and human settlement within a home range, and sex and age. We found considerable variation in red fox home range sizes, ranging between 0.95 km2 to 44 km2 (LoCoH 90%) and 2.4 km2 to 358 km2 (MCP 100%). Elevation, proportion of agricultural land and sex accounted for 50% of the variation in home range size found amongst foxes, with elevation having the strongest effect. Red foxes residing in more productive landscapes (those in more southern vegetation zones), had home ranges approximately four times smaller than the home ranges of foxes in the northern boreal vegetation zone. Our results indicate that home range size was influenced by a productivity gradient at both the landscape (latitude) and the local (elevation) scale. The influence of the proportion of agriculture land on home range size of foxes illustrates how human landscape alteration can affect the space use and distribution of red foxes. Further, the variation in home range size found in this study demonstrates the plasticity of red foxes to respond to changing human landscape alteration as well as changes in landscape productivity, which may be contributing to red fox population increases and northern range expansions.
Project description:The bacteria Anaplasma platys and Ehrlichia canis and the protozoan Leishmania infantum are vector-borne agents that cause canine vector-borne diseases, some of which are zoonotic. The present survey investigated the prevalence of Anaplasma, Ehrlichia and Leishmania in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) from Portugal by molecular analysis, in order to evaluate the epidemiological role of these canids as reservoirs of infection.Blood and/or bone marrow samples were collected from 78 red foxes obtained in eight districts of northern, central and southern Portugal. Real-time polymerase chain reactions (PCR) amplified a 123 bp fragment of the 16S rRNA gene of Anaplasma spp. and Ehrlichia spp. and a 265 bp fragment of the L. infantum internal transcribed spacer one (ITS1) region of the rRNA operon evaluated by PCR-high resolution melt analysis (PCR-HRM), with sequencing of the DNA products. A phylogenetic analysis was carried out to compare these to other sequences from Anaplasma spp. and Ehrlichia spp. deposited in GenBank.A. platys was detected in 10 (14.5%) and E. canis in two (2.9%) out of 69 foxes; and L. infantum was detected in one (1.3%) of the 78 foxes. The prevalence of A. platys was significantly different from the prevalence of E. canis (p=0.016) and from that of L. infantum (p=0.002). No co-infections were found in any one of the 78 foxes. No statistically significant differences were found between the type of sample (blood and bone marrow), geographic regions (north/centre and south), age (<2 years and??2 years) and gender for any one of the agents.This is the first known report of A. platys in red foxes worldwide, as well as the first molecular evidence of E. canis in foxes from Portugal. The moderate prevalence of A. platys suggests that red foxes may play a role in the epidemiology of infection with this bacterium and serve as a reservoir for domestic dogs.
Project description:Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the main course for acute hepatitis in humans throughout the world. Human associated genotypes 1 and 2 as well as zoonotic genotypes 3 and 4 are grouped in the species Orthohepevirus A. In addition, a large variety of HEV-related viruses has been found in vertebrates including carnivores, rats, bats, and chickens, which were classified in species Orthohepevirus B-D. In 2015, partial genome sequences of a novel hepevirus were detected in feces of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). However, no further information about virus circulation and the prevalence in foxes was available. We therefore assayed a unique panel of 880 transudates, which was collected from red foxes over 19 years (1993-2012) in Brandenburg, Germany, for HEV-related viral RNA and antibodies. Our results demonstrate a high antibody prevalence of HEV in red foxes, which oscillated annually between 40 and 100%. Molecular screening of the transudates revealed only a single RNA-positive sample, which was assigned to the carnivore species Orthohepevirus C based on the amplified partial sequence. These data indicate that the virus is circulating widely in the fox population and that foxes are carriers of this virus.
Project description:Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) have recently been recognized as potential reservoirs of several vector-borne pathogens and a source of infection for domestic dogs and humans, mostly due to their close vicinity to urban areas and frequent exposure to different arthropod vectors. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence and distribution of Babesia spp., Hepatozoon canis, Anaplasma spp., Bartonella spp., 'Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis', Ehrlichia canis, Rickettsia spp. and blood filaroid nematodes in free-ranging red foxes from Bosnia and Herzegovina.Spleen samples from a total of 119 red foxes, shot during the hunting season between October 2013 and April 2014 throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, were examined for the presence of blood vector-borne pathogens by conventional PCRs and sequencing.In the present study, three species of apicomplexan parasites were molecularly identified in 73 red foxes from the entire sample area, with an overall prevalence of 60.8%. The DNA of B. canis, B. cf. microti and H. canis was found in 1 (0.8%), 38 (31.9%) and 46 (38.6%) spleen samples, respectively. In 11 samples (9.2%) co-infections with B. cf. microti and H. canis were detected and one fox harboured all three parasites (0.8%). There were no statistically significant differences between geographical region, sex or age of the host in the infection prevalence of B. cf. microti, although females (52.9%; 18/34) were significantly more infected with H. canis than males (32.9%; 28/85). The presence of vector-borne bacteria and filaroid nematodes was not detected in our study.This is the first report of B. canis, B. cf. microti and H. canis parasites in foxes from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the data presented here provide a first insight into the distribution of these pathogens among the red fox population. Moreover, the relatively high prevalence of B. cf. microti and H. canis reinforces the assumption that this wild canid species might be a possible reservoir and source of infection for domestic dogs.
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.