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Gonzalez-Barrio D.,Spanish Wildlife Research Institute IREC CSIC UCLM | Avila A.L.V.,Spanish Wildlife Research Institute IREC CSIC UCLM | Boadella M.,SABIOtec | Beltran-Beck B.,Spanish Wildlife Research Institute IREC CSIC UCLM | And 8 more authors.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology

The control of multihost pathogens, such as Coxiella burnetii, should rely on accurate information about the roles played by the main hosts. We aimed to determine the involvement of the red deer (Cervus elaphus) in the ecology of C. burnetii.We predicted that red deer populations from broad geographic areas within a European context would be exposed to C. burnetii, and therefore, we hypothesized that a series of factors would modulate the exposure of red deer to C. burnetii. To test this hypothesis, we designed a retrospective survey of 47 Iberian red deer populations from which 1,751 serum samples and 489 spleen samples were collected. Sera were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) in order to estimate exposure to C. burnetii, and spleen samples were analyzed by PCR in order to estimate the prevalence of systemic infections. Thereafter, we gathered 23 variables- within environmental, host, and management factors-potentially modulating the risk of exposure of deer to C. burnetii, and we performed multivariate statistical analyses to identify the main risk factors. Twenty-three populations were seropositive (48.9%), and C. burnetii DNA in the spleen was detected in 50% of the populations analyzed. The statistical analyses reflect the complexity of C. burnetii ecology and suggest that although red deer may maintain the circulation of C. burnetii without third species, the most frequent scenario probably includes other wild and domestic host species. These findings, taken together with previous evidence of C. burnetii shedding by naturally infected red deer, point at this wild ungulate as a true reservoir for C. burnetii and an important node in the life cycle of C. burnetii, at least in the Iberian Peninsula. © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. Source

Ruiz-Fons F.,Spanish Wildlife Research Institute IREC CSIC UCLM | Balseiro A.,SERIDA | Willoughby K.,Moredun Research Institute | Oleaga A.,Spanish Wildlife Research Institute IREC CSIC UCLM | And 7 more authors.
European Journal of Wildlife Research

Louping ill virus (LIV) was recently involved in an outbreak of encephalitis in domestic goats from Asturias region, northwestern Spain. Since livestock and wildlife in Asturias are frequently in close contact, we designed a retrospective survey for LIV antibody prevalence in wild ungulates by testing sera from 51 red deer (Cervus elaphus), 19 Cantabrian chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica parva) and 8 roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) by the haemagglutination inhibition (HI) test. Only two Cantabrian chamois out of the 78 tested (2.6 ± 3.5 %) gave positive results. Seroprevalence in chamois was 10.5 ± 13.8 %. One of these chamois was found dead after falling down a cliff and the other one was found alive but with neurological signs. Histological examination of brain samples revealed that both animals showed severe inflammatory lesions compatible with a viral encephalitis caused by LIV, but LIV antigen was not detectable by specific immunohistochemistry. Real time RT-PCR was performed on formalin-fixed paraffin embedded sections of brain but was unable to confirm the presence of LIV RNA due to poor sample quality. By testing one of two HI positive sera from chamois by virus neutralization test and plaque reduction neutralization test against West Nile virus, Bagaza virus, Usutu virus, LIV and tick-borne encephalitis virus, we confirmed the presence of high antibody titres (1:10240) against LIV in the absence of antibodies to another Flavivirus. This work describes the first association between LIV and clinical encephalitis in chamois, which suggests that special attention should be paid to the impact on chamois conservation and management in Asturias, and perhaps in other European regions. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source

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