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Home » Archive » 2013

TDK conference 2013

Investigation of the potential reservoir role of birds in the epidemiology of certain tick-borne zoonotic bacteria
Hadnagy Zsófia - year 5
SzIU, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Department of Parasitology and Zoology
Supervisor: Hornok Sándor DVM

Abstract:

Modern molecular biological methods developed during the last two decades made it possible that tick-borne pathogens are detected more specifically and sensitively, than before. In this kind of researches the epidemiological role of tick carrier birds is frequently studied. The first of such surveys has recently been conducted in Hungary, and it verified that mid and long distance migratory birds can introduce into our country ticks and tick-borne pathogens endemic to Mediterranean countries. It was also shown that the prevalence of rickettsiae may be higher in ticks removed from synanthropic birds. Based on literature data molecular investigation of pathogens in ticks of birds is frequently undertaken, whereas birds are not studied simultaneously with their ticks from this point of view.

For this reason we collected blood samples and ticks from birds mist-netted for ringing during the spring and late summer, early autumn in 2013. The primary aim was to draw blood from tick-infested birds, but a similar number of samples were also collected from appropriate (tick free) control birds. In this way we had access to 130 bird blood samples, and 140 bird ticks during the study. We extracted the DNA from these samples individually, and we attempted to detect three zoonotic pathogens (groups) with the following types of PCR: (1) 'Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis' - recently detected for the first time in Hungary - with real-time PCR specific on the species, genus and family level; (2) Anaplasma phagocytophilum with species specific real-time PCR; and (3) rickettsiae with both real-time PCR and conventional PCR and sequencing.

All samples were negative for 'Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis' and the genus Neoehrlichia, but most of them were slightly positive to family Anaplasmataceae. Only one bird blood sample and an Ixodes ricinus nymph were positive for A. phagocytophilum. During the spring time six birds harbored Rickettsia helvetica in their blood, and this agent was also detected in 18 ticks with conventional PCR and sequencing. With the latter method in a smaller portion of ticks (11 samples) the presence of R. monacensis was demonstrated, and one of the bird blood DNA samples also showed positivity to other rickettsiae. We only found one report of Anaplasma sp. and Rickettsia sp. infection in birds, therefore our result may be the first to verify that birds are potential reservoirs in the epidemiology of A. phagocytophilum and R. helvetica.



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