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1.  Giardiosis and other enteropathogenic infections: a study on diarrhoeic calves in Southern Germany 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:112.
Diarrhoea induces massive problems in the rearing of calves. The aim of the study was to obtain current data about the frequency of Giardia spp., Cryptosporidium spp. and Eimeria spp. in diarrhoeic calves in Southern Germany with the particular focus on giardiosis.
1564 samples were analysed for the three pathogens using microscopical methods. Giardia spp. was detectable in 112/1564 samples (7.2%). The mean age was 46.5 days and the odds of being infected with Giardia spp. increased slowly up to 8 times from about 12 days to 30 days of age. There appeared to be no seasonal influence on the frequency of Giardia spp. A mono-infection with Giardia spp. was diagnosed in 46 calves (2.9%) whereas 15 calves (1.0%) had a mixed-infection with Cryptosporidium spp. and 51 calves (3.3%) with Eimeria spp. Cryptosporidium spp. and Eimeria spp. could be detected in 646/1564 samples (41.3%) and 208/1564 samples (13.3%), respectively, with a mean age of 11.3 and 55.0 days, respectively. The odds of being infected with Cryptosporidium spp. increased up to 4.5 times until an age of 10 days. After that the odds decreased continuously and was approaching zero at about 30 days. The odds of being infected with Eimeria spp. increased continuously up to 30 times from about 20 days to 60 days of age. There appeared to be no significant seasonal influence on the frequency of Cryptosporidium spp.; but there was one for Eimeria spp.: the odds of being infected with Eimeria spp. in March and April decreased by about half and increased up to 2.3 times between July and September.
Additionally, as requested by the veterinarians, 1282 of those samples were analysed for E. coli, Rota-, Coronavirus and Cryptosporidium spp. using an ELISA. Obtained frequencies for these pathogens were 0.9%, 37.8%, 3.4% and 45.3% with a mean age of 24.8 days, 12.1 days, 9.0 days and 12.1 days, respectively.
The results indicate that in Southern Germany in addition to Eimeria spp., Giardia spp. seems to play a contributing role in diarrhoea in older calves, whereas Cryptosporidium spp. and Rotavirus are mostly relevant in young calves.
PMCID: PMC3941484  PMID: 24568139
Giardia; Cryptosporidium; Eimeria; E. coli; Rotavirus; Coronaviurs; Calf; Diarrhoea; Epidemiology; Prevalence
2.  Survey of Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum, haemotropic mycoplasmas and other arthropod-borne pathogens in cats from Albania 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:62.
Albania is a country on the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. The Mediterranean climate is favourable for the stable development of many arthropod species, which are incriminated as vectors for various agents. Recently, several papers have reported on epidemiological aspects of parasitic diseases including vector-borne disease agents of dogs with zoonotic characteristics in Albania. However, data on the epidemiology of feline parasitic and bacterial agents in Albania is scarce.
Serum and EDTA-blood samples collected from 146 domestic cats from Tirana during 2008 through 2010 were examined for exposure to Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum, Leishmania infantum, and Anaplasma spp. with IFAT, for infection with L. infantum, A. phagocytophilum, Bartonella spp. and haemotropic mycoplasmas with conventional PCR and real-time PCR and for Dirofilaria immitis with antigen ELISA. Additionally blood smear microscopy was carried out for detection of blood-borne pathogens.
Antibodies to T. gondii (titre ≥1:100) were demonstrated in 91 cats (62.3%). Antibodies to N. caninum (titre ≥1:100), L. infantum (titre ≥1:64) and Anaplasma spp. (titre ≥1:100) were found in the serum of 15 (10.3%), 1 (0.7%) or 3 (2.1%) cats, respectively. DNA of haemotropic mycoplasmas was detected in the blood of 45 cats (30.8%), namely Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum (21.9%), Mycoplasma haemofelis (10.3%), and Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis (5.5%), with ten cats harbouring co-infections of two mycoplasmas each; blood from one cat was PCR positive for Bartonella henselae. No DNA of Leishmania spp. and A. phagocytophilum or circulating D. immitis antigen was detected in any cat sample. The overall prevalence of haemotropic mycoplasmas was significantly higher in male compared to female cats (40.6% vs. 24.1%, p = 0.0444); and age was associated positively with the prevalence of antibodies to T. gondii (p = 0.0008) and the percentage of haemotropic mycoplasma infection (p = 0.0454).
With the broad screening panel including direct and indirect methods applied in the present study, a wide spectrum of exposure to or infection with parasitic or bacterial agents was detected.
PMCID: PMC3926860  PMID: 24517118
Cat; Albania; Toxoplasma gondii; Neospora caninum; Leishmania infantum; Anaplasma spp.; Bartonella henselae; haemotropic mycoplasmas
3.  Molecular identification of zoonotic and livestock-specific Giardia-species in faecal samples of calves in Southern Germany 
Parasites & Vectors  2013;6:346.
Giardia-infection in cattle is often subclinical or asymptomatic, but it can also cause diarrhoea. The livestock-specific species Giardia bovis is the most frequently observed in cattle, however, the two zoonotic species Giardia duodenalis and Giardia enterica have also been found. Therefore calves are thought to be of public health significance. The aim of this study was to obtain current data about the frequency of the different Giardia-species in calves in Southern Germany.
Faecal samples of calves (diarrhoeic and healthy) in Southern Germany, diagnosed Giardia-positive by microscopy, were characterised by multi-locus PCR and sequencing.
Of 152 microscopically Giardia-positive samples 110 (72.4%) were positive by PCR and successfully sequenced. G. bovis (Assemblage E) was detected in 101/110 (91.8%) PCR-positive samples, whilst G. duodenalis (Assemblage A) was detected in 8/110 (7.3%) samples and a mixed infection with G. duodenalis and G. bovis (Assemblage A+E) was identified in 1/110 (0.9%) samples. The sub-genotypes A1, E2 and E3 were identified with the β-giardin and the glutamate dehydrogenase genes. In the majority of diarrhoeic faecal samples a co-infection with Cryptosporidium spp. or Eimeria spp. was present, however, there were some in which G. bovis was the only protozoan pathogen found.
The results suggest that there is potentially a risk for animal handlers as calves in Southern Germany are, at a low percentage, infected with the zoonotic species G. duodenalis. In addition, it was found that G. bovis was the only pathogen identified in some samples of diarrhoeic calves, indicating that this parasite may be a contributing factor to diarrhoea in calves.
PMCID: PMC4029387  PMID: 24326081
PCR; Diarrhoea; Protozoan; Giardia assemblages; Cattle; Giardia duodenalis morphological group
4.  Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Questing Ixodes ricinus Ticks: Comparison of Prevalences and Partial 16S rRNA Gene Variants in Urban, Pasture, and Natural Habitats 
Urban, natural, and pasture areas were investigated for prevalences and 16S rRNA gene variants of Anaplasma phagocytophilum in questing Ixodes ricinus ticks. The prevalences differed significantly between habitat types, and year-to-year variations in prevalence and habitat-dependent occurrence of 16S rRNA gene variants were detected.
PMCID: PMC3591944  PMID: 23263964
5.  Driving forces for changes in geographical distribution of Ixodes ricinus ticks in Europe 
Many factors are involved in determining the latitudinal and altitudinal spread of the important tick vector Ixodes ricinus (Acari: Ixodidae) in Europe, as well as in changes in the distribution within its prior endemic zones. This paper builds on published literature and unpublished expert opinion from the VBORNET network with the aim of reviewing the evidence for these changes in Europe and discusses the many climatic, ecological, landscape and anthropogenic drivers. These can be divided into those directly related to climatic change, contributing to an expansion in the tick’s geographic range at extremes of altitude in central Europe, and at extremes of latitude in Scandinavia; those related to changes in the distribution of tick hosts, particularly roe deer and other cervids; other ecological changes such as habitat connectivity and changes in land management; and finally, anthropogenically induced changes. These factors are strongly interlinked and often not well quantified. Although a change in climate plays an important role in certain geographic regions, for much of Europe it is non-climatic factors that are becoming increasingly important. How we manage habitats on a landscape scale, and the changes in the distribution and abundance of tick hosts are important considerations during our assessment and management of the public health risks associated with ticks and tick-borne disease issues in 21st century Europe. Better understanding and mapping of the spread of I. ricinus (and changes in its abundance) is, however, essential to assess the risk of the spread of infections transmitted by this vector species. Enhanced tick surveillance with harmonized approaches for comparison of data enabling the follow-up of trends at EU level will improve the messages on risk related to tick-borne diseases to policy makers, other stake holders and to the general public.
PMCID: PMC3549795  PMID: 23281838
Tick; Ixodes; Europe; Distribution; Climate; Ecology; Surveillance; Tick-borne disease
6.  Arthropod-borne infections in travelled dogs in Europe 
Parasite  2013;20:9.
Pet animal movement is ever increasing within the European Union and in that context canine vectorborne infections gained a considerable importance. Information on these infections in travelled dogs is nevertheless limited. A first prospective study on vector-borne infections was conducted in 106 dogs travelling from Germany to countries in South and South-East Europe. The dogs were screened prior to and consecutively up to three times after travel by haematological (Giemsa-stained buffy coat smears, Knott’s-Test), molecular biological (PCR) as well as serological (IFAT, DiroChek®-ELISA) methods for arthropod-borne infections. Seven animals were seropositive for antibodies against Babesia canis sspp., Leishmania spp. and/or Ehrlichia canis prior to travel to Italy, Spain, France, Croatia, Greece, or Hungary. In the consecutive screening after return there was no increase in the number of seropositive dogs. None was positive in direct methods. The mean duration of the stay was 17 days and 51% of the dogs were prophylactically treated with ectoparasiticidal formulations. Preliminary data from this study on canine vector-borne infections indicate a low risk for infection during a limited single stay in endemic countries.
PMCID: PMC3718538  PMID: 23477298
Vector-borne infections; Travelling dogs; Prophylaxis; Germany
7.  Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis in rodents in an area with sympatric existence of the hard ticks Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus, Germany 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:285.
Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis (CNM) has been described in the hard tick Ixodes ricinus and rodents as well as in some severe cases of human disease. The aims of this study were to identify DNA of CNM in small mammals, the ticks parasitizing them and questing ticks in areas with sympatric existence of Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus in Germany.
Blood, transudate and organ samples (spleen, kidney, liver, skin) of 91 small mammals and host-attached ticks from altogether 50 small mammals as well as questing I. ricinus ticks (n=782) were screened with a real-time PCR for DNA of CNM.
52.7% of the small mammals were positive for CNM-DNA. The majority of the infected animals were yellow-necked mice (Apodemus flavicollis) and bank voles (Myodes glareolus). Small mammals with tick infestation were more often infected with CNM than small mammals without ticks. Compared with the prevalence of ~25% in the questing I. ricinus ticks, twice the prevalence in the rodents provides evidence for their role as reservoir hosts for CNM.
The high prevalence of this pathogen in the investigated areas in both rodents and ticks points towards the need for more specific investigation on its role as a human pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3533915  PMID: 23216786
Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis; Bank vole; Yellow-necked mouse; Ixodes ricinus; Dermacentor reticulatus; Recreational area; Host survey; Vector-host relation
8.  Babesia spp. and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in questing ticks, ticks parasitizing rodents and the parasitized rodents – Analyzing the host-pathogen-vector interface in a metropolitan area 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:191.
The aims of this study were to evaluate the host-tick-pathogen interface of Babesia spp. and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in restored areas in both questing and host-attached Ixodes ricinus and Dermacentor reticulatus and their small mammalian hosts.
Questing ticks were collected from 5 sites within the city of Leipzig, Germany, in 2009. Small mammals were trapped at 3 of the 5 sites during 2010 and 2011. DNA extracts of questing and host-attached I. ricinus and D. reticulatus and of several tissue types of small mammals (the majority bank voles and yellow-necked mice), were investigated by PCR followed by sequencing for the occurrence of DNA of Babesia spp. and by real-time PCR for A. phagocytophilum. A selected number of samples positive for A. phagocytophilum were further investigated for variants of the partial 16S rRNA gene. Co-infection with Rickettsia spp. in the questing ticks was additionally investigated.
4.1% of questing I. ricinus ticks, but no D. reticulatus, were positive for Babesia sp. and 8.7% of I. ricinus for A. phagocytophilum. Sequencing revealed B. microti, B. capreoli and Babesia spp. EU1 in Leipzig and sequence analysis of the partial 16S RNA gene of A. phagocytophilum revealed variants either rarely reported in human cases or associated with cervid hosts. The statistical analysis revealed significantly less ticks infected with A. phagocytophilum in a city park in Leipzig as compared to the other sampling sites. A. phagocytophilum-DNA was detected in 2 bank voles, DNA of B. microti in 1 striped field-mouse and of Babesia sp. EU1 in the skin tissue of a mole. Co-infections were detected.
Our results show the involvement of small mammals in the natural endemic cycles of tick-borne pathogens. A more thorough understanding of the interactions of ticks, pathogens and hosts is the essential basis for effective preventive control measures.
PMCID: PMC3480827  PMID: 22950642
Babesia spp; Anaplasma phagocytophilum; Ixodes ricinus; Dermacentor reticulatus; Bank vole; Yellow-necked mouse; Recreational area; Host survey; Vector-host relation
10.  Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiae in Ticks, Germany 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2011;17(5):890-892.
To explore increased risk for human Rickettsia spp. infection in Germany, we investigated recreational areas and renatured brown coal surface-mining sites (also used for recreation) for the presence of spotted fever group rickettsiae in ticks. R. raoultii (56.7%), R. slovaca (13.3%), and R. helvetica (>13.4%) were detected in the respective tick species.
PMCID: PMC3321775  PMID: 21529404
Rickettsia; vector-borne infections; bacteria; ticks Germany; dispatch
11.  Protein expression profile of Gasterophilus intestinalis larvae causing horse gastric myiasis and characterization of horse immune reaction 
Little information is available on the immunological aspect of parasitic Gasterophilus intestinalis (Diptera, Oestridae) larvae causing horse gastric myiasis. The objectives of this research were to analyze the protein content of larval crude extracts of the migrating second and third larvae (L2 and L3) of G. intestinalis in order to characterize the immune response of horses.
The proteomic profile of L2 and L3, investigated by using one and two dimensional approaches, revealed a migration pattern specific to each larval stage. Furthermore, Western blots were performed with horse sera and with sera of Balb/c mice immunised with the larval crude extracts of L2 or L3, revealing a different immune reaction in naturally infected horses vs. artificially induced immune reaction in mice. The comparisons of the immunoblot profiles demonstrate that the stage L2 is more immunogenic than the stage L3 most likely as an effect of the highest enzymatic production of L2 while migrating through the host tissues. Fifteen proteins were identified by mass spectrometry.
This work provides further information into the understanding of the interaction between G. intestinalis and their host and by contributing a novel scheme of the proteomic profile of the main larval stages.
PMCID: PMC2633288  PMID: 19133133
12.  Rickettsia felis in Fleas, Germany 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2008;14(8):1294-1296.
Among 310 fleas collected from dogs and cats in Germany, Rickettsia felis was detected in all specimens (34) of Archaeopsylla erinacei (hedgehog flea) and in 9% (24/226) of Ctenocephalides felis felis (cat flea). R. helvetica was detected in 1 Ceratophyllus gallinae (hen flea).
PMCID: PMC2600387  PMID: 18680660
Rickettsia felis; fleas; Germany; dispatch
13.  Anaplasma phagocytophilum Infection in Ixodes ricinus, Bavaria, Germany 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2008;14(6):972-974.
Anaplasma phagocytophilum DNA was detected by real-time PCR, which targeted the msp2 gene, in 2.9% of questing Ixodes ricinus ticks (adults and nymphs; n = 2,862), collected systematically from selected locations in Bavaria, Germany, in 2006. Prevalence was significantly higher in urban public parks in Munich than in natural forests.
PMCID: PMC2600299  PMID: 18507918
Anaplasma phagocytophilum; prevalence; ticks; Ixodes ricinus; molecular epidemiology; Bavaria; Germany; dispatch
14.  Rickettsia felis in Fleas, France 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2008;14(4):684-686.
PMCID: PMC2570947  PMID: 18394302
Rickettsia felis; France; polymerase chain reaction; Ctenocephalis felis; Ctenocephalis canis; Archaeopsylla erinacei; letter
15.  PCR Detection and Serological Evidence of Granulocytic Ehrlichial Infection in Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) and Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2002;40(3):892-897.
The role of wild mammals, such as roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), in the epidemiology of granulocytic ehrlichiae in Switzerland was investigated. We tested blood samples for Ehrlichia phagocytophila genogroup 16S rRNA gene sequences by PCR and for immunoglobulin G antibodies against granulocytic ehrlichiae by indirect fluorescent-antibody assay (IFA). Overall means of 60.9% of 133 roe deer serum samples and 28.2% of 39 chamois serum samples were seroreactive by IFA. PCR results were positive for 18.4% of 103 roe deer serum samples as well. None of the 24 chamois blood samples tested were positive by PCR. Partial 16S rRNA gene and groESL heat shock operon sequences of three roe deer samples tested showed strong degrees of homology (≥99.7 and ≥98.6%, respectively) with the sequences of granulocytic ehrlichiae isolated from humans. These results confirm that chamois, and particularly roe deer, are commonly infected with granulocytic ehrlichiae and provide evidence that these wild mammals are potential reservoirs for granulocytic ehrlichiae in Switzerland.
PMCID: PMC120259  PMID: 11880411

Results 1-15 (15)