Seroprevalence of Hepatitis E Virus in Moose (Alces alces), Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus), and Muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) from Norway.
ABSTRACT: Hepatitis E virus (HEV), a major cause of viral hepatitis worldwide, is considered an emerging foodborne zoonosis in Europe. Pigs (Sus scrofa domestica) and wild boars (S. scrofa) 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 (Alces alces), 186 wild Eurasian tundra reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus), 177 red deer (Cervus elaphus), 86 European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), and 102 muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus). 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:The prion protein (PrP) sequence of European moose, reindeer, roe deer and fallow deer in Scandinavia has high homology to the PrP sequence of North American cervids. Variants in the European moose PrP sequence were found at amino acid position 109 as K or Q. The 109Q variant is unique in the PrP sequence of vertebrates. During the 1980s a wasting syndrome in Swedish moose, Moose Wasting Syndrome (MWS), was described. SNP analysis demonstrated a difference in the observed genotype proportions of the heterozygous Q/K and homozygous Q/Q variants in the MWS animals compared with the healthy animals. In MWS moose the allele frequencies for 109K and 109Q were 0.73 and 0.27, respectively, and for healthy animals 0.69 and 0.31. Both alleles were seen as heterozygotes and homozygotes. In reindeer, PrP sequence variation was demonstrated at codon 176 as D or N and codon 225 as S or Y. The PrP sequences in roe deer and fallow deer were identical with published GenBank sequences.
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:BACKGROUND:The geographical expansion of the tick Ixodes ricinus in northern Europe is a serious concern for animal and human health. The pathogen Anaplasma phagocytophilum is transmitted by ticks and causes emergences of tick-borne fever (anaplasmosis) in livestock. The transmission dynamics of the different ecotypes of A. phagocytophilum in the ecosystems is only partly determined. Red deer and roe deer contribute to circulation of different ecotypes of A. phagocytophilum in continental Europe, while the role of moose for circulation of different ecotypes is not fully established but an important issue in northern Europe. METHODS:We determined infection prevalence and ecotypes of A. phagocytophilum in moose (n = 111), red deer (n = 141), roe deer (n = 28) and questing ticks (n = 9241) in Norway. RESULTS:As previously described, red deer was exclusively linked to circulation of ecotype I, while roe deer was exclusively linked to circulation of ecotype II. Surprisingly, we found 58% ecotype I (n = 19) and 42% of ecotype II (n = 14) in moose. Both ecotypes were found in questing ticks in areas with multiple cervid species present, while only ecotype I was found in ticks in a region with only red deer present. Hence, the geographical distribution of ecotypes in ticks followed the distribution of cervid species present in a given region and their link to ecotype I and II. CONCLUSIONS:Moose probably function as reservoirs for both ecotype I and II, indicating that the ecotypes of A. phagocytophilum are not entirely host-specific and have overlapping niches. The disease hazard depends also on both host abundance and the number of immature ticks fed by each host. Our study provides novel insights in the northern distribution and expansion of tick-borne fever.
Project description:Gammaherpesvirus infections have been described in cervids worldwide, mainly the genera Macavirus or Rhadinovirus. However, little is known about the gammaherpesviruses species infecting cervids in Norway and Fennoscandia. Blood samples from semi-domesticated (n = 39) and wild (n = 35) Eurasian tundra reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus), moose (Alces alces, n = 51), and red deer (Cervus elaphus, n = 41) were tested using a panherpesvirus DNA polymerase (DPOL) PCR. DPOL-PCR-positive samples were subsequently tested for the presence of glycoprotein B (gB) gene. The viral DPOL gene was amplified in 28.2% (11/39) of the semi-domesticated reindeer and in 48.6% (17/35) of the wild reindeer. All moose and red deer tested negative. Additionally, gB gene was amplified in 4 of 11 semi-domesticated and 15 of 17 wild Eurasian reindeer DPOL-PCR-positive samples. All the obtained DPOL and gB sequences were highly similar among them, and corresponded to a novel gammaherpesvirus species, tentatively named Rangiferine gammaherpesvirus 1, that seemed to belong to a genus different from Macavirus and Rhadinovirus. This is the first report of a likely host-specific gammaherpesvirus in semi-domesticated reindeer, an economic and cultural important animal, and in wild tundra reindeer, the lastpopulation in Europe. Future studies are required to clarify the potential impact of this gammaherpesvirus on reindeer health.
Project description:Moose (Alces alces) are a culturally and economically valued species in Minnesota, where the northeast population has decreased by 60 % since 2006. The cause of the decline is currently unclear; however, parasites, predation, and climate change have all been implicated. Nematode parasites are important pathogens in North American moose, potentially causing severe disease and mortality. Recent spread of Rumenfilaria andersoni, a filarioid nematode of moose, has been documented in Finnish cervids; however, little is known about the epidemiology of this parasite in North America.To investigate the prevalence and distribution of R. andersoni, 584 blood samples were collected from live-captured and dead animals and screened microscopically for the presence of microfilariae using a modified Knott's test. Microfilariae were identified based on morphological characteristics. A subset of Knott's-positive animals was subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with filarioid-specific primers targeting the first internal transcribed spacer region (ITS-1) of the rRNA gene cluster.Rumenfilaria microfilariae were present in 20.5 % of Minnesota moose (n = 352), with slight fluctuations observed over four years. Minnesota white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) (n = 2) and moose (n = 44) from Alaska, Montana, Washington, Maine, and New Hampshire also harbored R. andersoni, suggesting this parasite occurs widely throughout North American moose herds, and white-tailed deer can serve as a patent host. Sequence analysis of cervid blood (moose, n = 15; white-tailed deer, n = 1) confirmed the identity of R. andersoni and revealed the existence of two distinct clades. Genetic comparisons of R. andersoni isolates from North America and semi-domesticated Finnish reindeer found the two groups to be closely related, supporting previous hypotheses that R. andersoni was recently introduced into Finland by the importation of deer from the United States.To the best of our knowledge these observations represent the first report of R. andersoni within the contiguous United States and reveal this nematode as a common parasite of North American moose and white-tailed deer. Although the implications of R. andersoni infection on moose health is unclear, increased awareness of this parasite will help prevent unintentional introduction of R. andersoni into naïve populations via the translocation of wild and captive cervids.
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:BACKGROUND:Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is one of the major causes of acute viral hepatitis worldwide. In Europe, food-borne zoonotic transmission of HEV genotype 3 has been associated with domestic pigs and wild boar. Controversial data are available on the circulation of the virus in animals that are used for human consumption, and to date, no gold standard has yet been defined for the diagnosis of HEV-associated hepatitis. To investigate the current HEV infection status in Lithuanian pigs and wild ungulates, the presence of viral RNA was analyzed by nested reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-nPCR) in randomly selected samples, and the viral RNA was subsequently genotyped. RESULTS:In total, 32.98 and 22.55% of the domestic pig samples were HEV-positive using RT-nPCR targeting the ORF1 and ORF2 fragments, respectively. Among ungulates, 25.94% of the wild boar samples, 22.58% of the roe deer samples, 6.67% of the red deer samples and 7.69% of the moose samples were positive for HEV RNA using primers targeting the ORF1 fragment. Using primers targeting the ORF2 fragment of the HEV genome, viral RNA was only detected in 17.03% of the wild boar samples and 12.90% of the roe deer samples. Phylogenetic analysis based on a 348-nucleotide-long region of the HEV ORF2 showed that all obtained sequences detected in Lithuanian domestic pigs and wildlife belonged to genotype 3. In this study, the sequences identified from pigs, wild boars and roe deer clustered within the 3i subtype reference sequences from the GenBank database. The sequences obtained from pig farms located in two different counties of Lithuania were of the HEV 3f subtype. The wild boar sequences clustered within subtypes 3i and 3h, clearly indicating that wild boars can harbor additional subtypes of HEV. For the first time, the ORF2 nucleotide sequences obtained from roe deer proved that HEV subtype 3i can be found in a novel host. CONCLUSION:The results of the viral prevalence and phylogenetic analyses clearly demonstrated viral infection in Lithuanian pigs and wild ungulates, thus highlighting a significant concern for zoonotic virus transmission through both the food chain and direct contact with animals. Unexpected HEV genotype 3 subtype diversity in Lithuania and neighboring countries revealed that further studies are necessary to understand the mode of HEV transmission between animals and humans in the Baltic States region.
Project description:Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a human pathogen with zoonotic spread, infecting both domestic and wild animals. About 17% of the Swedish population is immune to HEV, but few cases are reported annually, indicating that most infections are subclinical. However, clinical hepatitis E may also be overlooked. For identified cases, the source of infection is mostly unknown. In order to identify whether HEV may be spread from wild game, the prevalence of markers for past and/or ongoing infection was investigated in sera and stool samples collected from 260 hunted Swedish wild ungulates. HEV markers were found in 43 (17%) of the animals. The most commonly infected animal was moose (Alces alces) with 19 out of 69 animals (28%) showing HEV markers, followed by wild boar (Sus scrofa) with 21 out of 139 animals (15%), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) with 2 out of 30 animals, red deer (Cervus elaphus) with 1 out of 15 animals, and fallow deer (Dama dama) 0 out of 7 animals. Partial open reading frame 1 (ORF1) of the viral genomes from the animals were sequenced and compared with those from 14 endemic human cases. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that three humans were infected with HEV strains similar to those from wild boar. These results indicate that wild animals may be a source of transmission to humans and could be an unrecognized public health concern.
Project description: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:The faecal microbiota of muskoxen (n=3) pasturing on Ryøya (69° 33' N 18° 43' E), Norway, in late September was characterized using high-throughput sequencing of partial 16S rRNA gene regions. A total of 16 209 high-quality sequence reads from bacterial domains and 19 462 from archaea were generated. Preliminary taxonomic classifications of 806 bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) resulted in 53.7-59.3 % of the total sequences being without designations beyond the family level. Firmicutes (70.7-81.1 % of the total sequences) and Bacteroidetes (16.8-25.3 %) constituted the two major bacterial phyla, with uncharacterized members within the family Ruminococcaceae (28.9-40.9 %) as the major phylotype. Multiple-library comparisons between muskoxen and other ruminants indicated a higher similarity for muskoxen faeces and reindeer caecum (P>0.05) and some samples from cattle faeces. The archaeal sequences clustered into 37 OTUs, with dominating phylotypes affiliated to the methane-producing genus Methanobrevibacter (80-92 % of the total sequences). UniFrac analysis demonstrated heterogeneity between muskoxen archaeal libraries and those from reindeer and roe deer (P=1.0e-02, Bonferroni corrected), but not with foregut fermenters. The high proportion of cellulose-degrading Ruminococcus-affiliated bacteria agrees with the ingestion of a highly fibrous diet. Further experiments are required to elucidate the role played by these novel bacteria in the digestion of this fibrous Artic diet eaten by muskoxen.