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1.  Serological testing of cattle experimentally infected with Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides Small Colony using four different tests reveals a variety of seroconversion patterns 
Background
To study the specific antibody response to infection with Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides Small Colony (MmmSC), the agent of Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), we examined three panels of sera collected during three experimental infection trials in African cattle. The methods used included an in-house complement fixation test (CFT), a commercially available CFT, a competitive antibody ELISA (cELISA) and the immunoblotting test (IBT). In addition, lung tissue samples were examined by culture.
Results
A total of 89% (51/59) of all experimentally infected animals tested positive on at least one of the serological tests throughout the trial. The specific antibody titres to the MmmSC infection became positive first by CFT (6 to 9 days post infection [dpi]), followed by IBT (9 to 13 dpi) and cELISA (13 to 16 dpi). Individual animals were found to display remarkably distinct seroconversion patterns, which allowed their classification into i) early high responders, ii) late high responders, and iii) low responders. In accordance with other studies, none of the present serological tests was capable of detecting all CBPP infected animals.
Conclusion
Comparison of the assays' performance in terms of sensitivity and specificity raises serious questions as to their reliability for identification of infected individuals in the field. In view of these limitations, a combination of CFT and cELISA can markedly improve CBPP diagnosis at single-animal level.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-72
PMCID: PMC3377920  PMID: 22098816
2.  High frequency of chlamydial co-infections in clinically healthy sheep flocks 
Background
The epidemiological situation of ovine chlamydial infections in continental Europe, especially Germany is poorly characterised. Using the German state of Thuringia as a model example, the chlamydial sero- and antigen prevalence was estimated in thirty-two randomly selected sheep flocks with an average abortion rate lower than 1%. Seven vaccinated flocks were reviewed separately.
Results
A wide range of samples from 32 flocks were examined. Assumption of a seroprevalence of 10% (CI 95%) at flock level, revealed that 94% of the tested flocks were serologically positive with ongoing infection (i.e. animals with seroconversion) in nearly half (47%) of the flocks. On the basis of an estimated 25% antigen prevalence (CI 95%), PCR and DNA microarray testing, together with sequencing revealed the presence of chlamydiae in 78% of the flocks. The species most frequently found was Chlamydophila (C.) abortus (50%) followed by C. pecorum (47%) and C. psittaci genotype A (25%). Mixed infections occurred in 25% of the tested flocks. Samples obtained from the vaccinated flocks revealed the presence of C. abortus field samples in 4/7 flocks. C. pecorum was isolated from 2/7 flocks and the presence of seroconversion was determined in 3/7 flocks.
Conclusions
The results imply that chlamydial infections occur frequently in German sheep flocks, even in the absence of elevated abortion rates. The fact that C. pecorum and the potentially zoonotic C. psittaci were found alongside the classical abortifacient agent C. abortus, raise questions about the significance of this reservoir for animal and human health and underline the necessity for regular monitoring. Further studies are needed to identify the possible role of C. psittaci infections in sheep.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-29
PMCID: PMC3125319  PMID: 21679409
3.  BPEX Pig Health Scheme: a useful monitoring system for respiratory disease control in pig farms? 
Background
Respiratory diseases account for significant economic losses to the UK pig industry. Lesions indicative of respiratory disease in pig lungs at slaughter e.g. pneumonia and pleuritis are frequently recorded to assess herd health or provide data for epidemiological studies. The BPEX Pig Health Scheme (BPHS) is a monitoring system, which informs producers of gross lesions in their pigs' carcasses at slaughter, enabling farm-level decisions to be made. The aim of the study was to assess whether information provided by the BPHS regarding respiratory lesions was associated with respiratory pathogens in the farm, farm management practices and each other.
Results
BPHS reports were obtained from a subset of 70 pig farms involved in a cross-sectional study conducted in 2008-09 investigating the epidemiology of post-weaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome. The reports were combined with data regarding the presence/absence of several pathogens in the herd and potential farm-level risk factors for respiratory disease. Principal component analysis (PCA) performed on BPHS reports generated three principal components, explaining 71% of the total variance. Enzootic pneumonia score, severe pleurisy and acute pleuropneumonia had the highest loadings for the principal component which explained the largest percentage of the total variance (35%) (BPHS component 1), it was thought that this component identifies farms with acute disease. Using the factor loadings a score for each farm for BPHS component 1 was obtained. As farms' score for BPHS component 1 increased, average carcass weight at slaughter decreased. In addition, farms positive for H1N2 and porcine reproductive and respiratory disease virus (PRRSV) were more likely to have higher levels of severe and mild pleurisy reported by the BPHS, respectively.
Conclusions
The study found statistical associations between levels of pleurisy recorded by BPHS at slaughter and the presence H1N2 and PRRSV in the herd. There is also some evidence that farms which submit pigs with these lesions may have reduced productivity. However, more research is needed to fully validate the scheme.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-82
PMCID: PMC3285094  PMID: 22208847
4.  Seroprevalence and risk factors of Q fever in goats on commercial dairy goat farms in the Netherlands, 2009-2010 
Background
The aim of this study was to estimate the seroprevalence of Coxiella burnetii in dairy goat farms in the Netherlands and to identify risk factors for farm and goat seropositivity before mandatory vaccination started. We approached 334 eligible farms with more than 100 goats for serum sampling and a farm questionnaire. Per farm, median 21 goats were sampled. A farm was considered positive when at least one goat tested ELISA positive.
Results
In total, 2,828 goat serum samples from 123 farms were available. Farm prevalence was 43.1% (95%CI: 34.3%-51.8%). Overall goat seroprevalence was 21.4% (95%CI: 19.9%-22.9%) and among the 53 positive farms 46.6% (95%CI: 43.8%-49.3%). Multivariable logistic regression analysis included 96 farms and showed that farm location within 8 kilometres proximity from a bulk milk PCR positive farm, location in a municipality with high cattle density (≥ 100 cattle per square kilometre), controlling nuisance animals through covering airspaces, presence of cats or dogs in the goat stable, straw imported from abroad or unknown origin and a herd size above 800 goats were independent risk factors associated with Q fever on farm level. At animal level almost identical risk factors were found, with use of windbreak curtain and artificial insemination as additional risk factors.
Conclusion
In 2009-2010, the seroprevalence in dairy goats in the Netherlands increased on animal and farm level compared to a previous study in 2008. Risk factors suggest spread from relatively closely located bulk milk-infected small ruminant farms, next to introduction and spread from companion animals, imported straw and use of artificial insemination. In-depth studies investigating the role of artificial insemination and bedding material are needed, while simultaneously general biosecurity measures should be updated, such as avoiding companion animals and vermin entering the stables, next to advice on farm stable constructions on how to prevent introduction and minimize airborne transmission from affected dairy goat farms to prevent further spread to the near environment.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-81
PMCID: PMC3292966  PMID: 22208798
Coxiella burnetii; small ruminants; seroprevalence; risk factors; zoonosis; goat
5.  Generation of recombinant Orf virus using an enhanced green fluorescent protein reporter gene as a selectable marker 
Background
Reporter genes are often used as a selectable marker for generation of recombinant viruses in order to investigate the mechanism of pathogenesis and to obtain candidate vaccine viruses. Routine selection of the recombinant parapoxvirus is time-consuming and labor intensive. Therefore, developing a novel method for selection is critical.
Results
In this study, we developed a rapid method to generate recombinant Orf viruses (ORFV) based on the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) reporter gene as a selectable marker. The coding sequence of EGFP gene was amplified from pEGFP-N1 vector and subcloned into the pZIPPY-neo/gus plasmid under the control of the early-late vaccinia virus (VACV) VV7.5 promoter and flanked by two multiple cloning sites (MCS) to generate a novel transfer vector pSPV-EGFP. Using the pSPV-EGFP, two recombination cassettes pSPV-113LF-EGFP-113RF and pSPV-116LF-EGFP-116RF were constructed by cloning the flanking regions of the ORFV113 and ORFV116 and inserted into two MCS flanking the EGFP gene. Using this novel system, two single gene deletion mutants OV-IA82Δ113 and OV-IA82Δ116 were successfully generated.
Conclusions
This approach shortens the time needed to generate recombinant ORFVs (rORFVs). Thus, the pSPV-EGFP vector provides a direct, fast, and convenient way to manipulate the recombinant viruses, indicating that it is highly suited for its designed purpose.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-80
PMCID: PMC3305490  PMID: 22192523
6.  Morbidity-mortality and performance evaluation of Brahman calves from in vitro embryo production 
Background
The use of bovine in vitro embryo production (IVP) increases the reproductive potential of genetically superior cows, enabling a larger scale of embryo production when compared with other biotechnologies. However, deleterious effects such as abnormal fetal growth, longer gestation period, increased birth weight, abortion, preterm birth and higher rates of neonatal mortality have been attributed to IVP. The aim of this study was to compare the influence of in vitro embryo production and artificial insemination (AI) on gestation length, complications with birth, birth weight, method of feeding colostrum, passive transfer of immunity, morbidity-mortality, and performance in Brahman calves.
Results
Whilst gestation length and birth weight were significantly increased in IVP-derived calves, no difference in weaning weight was observed between groups. The passive transfer of immunity (PT), was assessed in IVP (n = 80) and AI (n = 20) groups 24 hours after birth by determination of gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) and gammaglobulin activity as well as by quantification of the concentration of total protein in serum. No differences in passive transfer or incidences of dystocia and diseases at weaning were observed between groups. Birth weight, method of feeding colostrum and dystocia were not correlated with PT in either group.
Conclusions
In this study, in vitro embryo production did not affect the health status, development, or passive transfer of immunity in Brahman calves.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-79
PMCID: PMC3248837  PMID: 22136315
7.  A possible case of caprine-associated malignant catarrhal fever in a domestic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) in Switzerland 
Background
Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is a fatal herpesvirus infection, affecting various wild and domestic ruminants all over the world. Water buffaloes were reported to be particularly susceptible for the ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) causing the sheep-associated form of MCF (SA-MCF). This report describes the first case of possibly caprine-associated malignant catarrhal fever symptoms in a domestic water buffalo in Switzerland.
Case presentation
The buffalo cow presented with persistent fever, dyspnoea, nasal bleeding and haematuria. Despite symptomatic therapy, the buffalo died and was submitted to post mortem examination. Major findings were an abomasal ulceration, a mild haemorrhagic cystitis and multifocal haemorrhages on the epicardium and on serosal and mucosal surfaces. Eyes and oral cavity were not affected. Histopathology revealed a mild to moderate lymphohistiocytic vasculitis limited to the brain and the urinary bladder. Although these findings are typical for MCF, OvHV-2 DNA was not detected in peripheral blood lymphocytes or in paraffin-embedded brain, using an OvHV-2 specific real time PCR. With the aid of a panherpesvirus PCR, a caprine herpesvirus-2 (CpHV-2) sequence could be amplified from both samples.
Conclusions
To our knowledge, this is the first report of malignant catarrhal fever in the subfamily Bovinae, where the presence of CpHV-2 could be demonstrated. The etiological context has yet to be evaluated.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-78
PMCID: PMC3259070  PMID: 22132808
8.  Identification of Mycobacterium spp. of veterinary importance using rpoB gene sequencing 
Background
Studies conducted on Mycobacterium spp. isolated from human patients indicate that sequencing of a 711 bp portion of the rpoB gene can be useful in assigning a species identity, particularly for members of the Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC). Given that MAC are important pathogens in livestock, companion animals, and zoo/exotic animals, we were interested in evaluating the use of rpoB sequencing for identification of Mycobacterium isolates of veterinary origin.
Results
A total of 386 isolates, collected over 2008 - June 2011 from 378 animals (amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals) underwent PCR and sequencing of a ~ 711 bp portion of the rpoB gene; 310 isolates (80%) were identified to the species level based on similarity at ≥ 98% with a reference sequence. The remaining 76 isolates (20%) displayed < 98% similarity with reference sequences and were assigned to a clade based on their location in a neighbor-joining tree containing reference sequences. For a subset of 236 isolates that received both 16S rRNA and rpoB sequencing, 167 (70%) displayed a similar species/clade assignation for both sequencing methods. For the remaining 69 isolates, species/clade identities were different with each sequencing method. Mycobacterium avium subsp. hominissuis was the species most frequently isolated from specimens from pigs, cervids, companion animals, cattle, and exotic/zoo animals.
Conclusions
rpoB sequencing proved useful in identifying Mycobacterium isolates of veterinary origin to clade, species, or subspecies levels, particularly for assemblages (such as the MAC) where 16S rRNA sequencing alone is not adequate to demarcate these taxa. rpoB sequencing can represent a cost-effective identification tool suitable for routine use in the veterinary diagnostic laboratory.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-77
PMCID: PMC3251535  PMID: 22118247
9.  Potential for epidemic take-off from the primary outbreak farm via livestock movements 
Background
We consider the potential for infection to spread in a farm population from the primary outbreak farm via livestock movements prior to disease detection. We analyse how this depends on the time of the year infection occurs, the species transmitting, the length of infectious period on the primary outbreak farm, location of the primary outbreak, and whether a livestock market becomes involved. We consider short infectious periods of 1 week, 2 weeks and 4 weeks, characteristic of acute contagious livestock diseases. The analysis is based on farms in Scotland from 1 January 2003 to 31 July 2007.
Results
The proportion of primary outbreaks from which an acute contagious disease would spread via movement of livestock is generally low, but exhibits distinct annual cyclicity with peaks in May and August. The distance that livestock are moved varies similarly: at the time of the year when the potential for spread via movements is highest, the geographical spread via movements is largest. The seasonal patterns for cattle differ from those for sheep whilst there is no obvious seasonality for pigs. When spread via movements does occur, there is a high risk of infection reaching a livestock market; infection of markets can amplify disease spread. The proportion of primary outbreaks that would spread infection via livestock movements varies significantly between geographical regions.
Conclusions
In this paper we introduce a set-up for analysis of movement data that allows for a generalized assessment of the risk associated with infection spreading from a primary outbreak farm via livestock movements, applying this to Scotland, we assess how this risk depends upon the time of the year, species transmitting, location of the farm and other factors.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-76
PMCID: PMC3264511  PMID: 22115121
livestock movement; seasonality; cyclicity; spread of infection; primary outbreak
10.  Classical scrapie prions in ovine blood are associated with B lymphocytes and platelet-rich plasma 
Background
Classical scrapie is a naturally occurring transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of sheep and goats characterized by cellular accumulation of abnormal isoforms of prion protein (PrPSc) in the central nervous system and the follicles of peripheral lymphoid tissues. Previous studies have shown that the whole blood and buffy coat blood fraction of scrapie infected sheep harbor prion infectivity. Although PrPSc has been detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), plasma, and more recently within a subpopulation of B lymphocytes, the infectivity status of these cells and plasma in sheep remains unknown. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine whether circulating PBMCs, B lymphocytes and platelets from classical scrapie infected sheep harbor prion infectivity using a sheep bioassay.
Results
Serial rectal mucosal biopsy and immunohistochemistry were used to detect preclinical infection in lambs transfused with whole blood or blood cell fractions from preclinical or clinical scrapie infected sheep. PrPSc immunolabeling was detected in antemortem rectal and postmortem lymphoid tissues from recipient lambs receiving PBMCs (15/15), CD72+ B lymphocytes (3/3), CD21+ B lymphocytes (3/3) or platelet-rich plasma (2/3) fractions. As expected, whole blood (11/13) and buffy coat (5/5) recipients showed positive PrPSc labeling in lymphoid follicles. However, at 549 days post-transfusion, PrPSc was not detected in rectal or other lymphoid tissues in three sheep receiving platelet-poor plasma fraction.
Conclusions
Prion infectivity was detected in circulating PBMCs, CD72+ pan B lymphocytes, the CD21+ subpopulation of B lymphocytes and platelet-rich plasma of classical scrapie infected sheep using a sheep bioassay. Combining platelets with B lymphocytes might enhance PrPSc detection levels in blood samples.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-75
PMCID: PMC3233507  PMID: 22112371
11.  Estimation of the number and demographics of companion dogs in the UK 
Background
Current estimates of the UK dog population vary, contain potential sources of bias and are based on expensive, large scale, public surveys. Here, we evaluate the potential of a variety of sources for estimation and monitoring of the companion dog population in the UK and associated demographic information. The sources considered were: a public survey; veterinary practices; pet insurance companies; micro-chip records; Kennel Club registrations; and the Pet Travel Scheme. The public survey and subpopulation estimates from veterinary practices, pet insurance companies and Kennel Club registrations, were combined to generate distinct estimates of the UK owned dog population using a Bayesian approach.
Results
We estimated there are 9.4 (95% CI: 8.1-11.5) million companion dogs in the UK according to the public survey alone, which is similar to other recent estimates. The population was judged to be over-estimated by combining the public and veterinary surveys (16.4, 95% CI: 12.5-21.5 million) and under-estimated by combining the public survey and insured dog numbers (4.8, 95% CI: 3.6-6.9 million). An estimate based on combining the public survey and Kennel Club registered dogs was 7.1 (95% CI: 4.5-12.9) million. Based on Bayesian estimations, 77 (95% CI: 62-92)% of the UK dog population were registered at a veterinary practice; 42 (95% CI: 29-55)% of dogs were insured; and 29 (95% CI: 17-43)% of dogs were Kennel Club registered. Breed demographics suggested the Labrador was consistently the most popular breed registered in micro-chip records, with the Kennel Club and with J. Sainsbury's PLC pet insurance. A comparison of the demographics between these sources suggested that popular working breeds were under-represented and certain toy, utility and miniature breeds were over- represented in the Kennel Club registrations. Density maps were produced from micro-chip records based on the geographical distribution of dogs.
Conclusions
A list containing the breed of each insured dog was provided by J. Sainsbury's PLC pet insurance without any accompanying information about the dog or owner.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-74
PMCID: PMC3305510  PMID: 22112367
12.  Normal variation in thermal radiated temperature in cattle: implications for foot-and-mouth disease detection 
Background
Thermal imagers have been used in a number of disciplines to record animal surface temperatures and as a result detect temperature distributions and abnormalities requiring a particular course of action. Some work, with animals infected with foot-and-mouth disease virus, has suggested that the technique might be used to identify animals in the early stages of disease. In this study, images of 19 healthy cattle have been taken over an extended period to determine hoof and especially coronary band temperatures (a common site for the development of FMD lesions) and eye temperatures (as a surrogate for core body temperature) and to examine how these vary with time and ambient conditions.
Results
The results showed that under UK conditions an animal's hoof temperature varied from 10°C to 36°C and was primarily influenced by the ambient temperature and the animal's activity immediately prior to measurement. Eye temperatures were not affected by ambient temperature and are a useful indicator of core body temperature.
Conclusions
Given the variation in temperature of the hooves of normal animals under various environmental conditions the use of a single threshold hoof temperature will be at best a modest predictive indicator of early FMD, even if ambient temperature is factored into the evaluation.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-73
PMCID: PMC3235061  PMID: 22104039
13.  The culturable intestinal microbiota of triploid and diploid juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) - a comparison of composition and drug resistance 
Background
With the increased use of ploidy manipulation in aquaculture and fisheries management this investigation aimed to determine whether triploidy influences culturable intestinal microbiota composition and bacterial drug resistance in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). The results could provide answers to some of the physiological differences observed between triploid and diploid fish, especially in terms of fish health.
Results
No ploidy effect was observed in the bacterial species isolated, however, triploids were found to contain a significant increase in total gut microbiota levels, with increases in Pseudomonas spp., Pectobacterium carotovorum, Psychrobacter spp., Bacillus spp., and Vibrio spp., (12, 42, 9, 10, and 11% more bacteria in triploids than diploids, respectively), whereas a decrease in Carnobacterium spp., within triploids compared to diploids was close to significant (8% more bacteria in diploids). With the exception of gentamicin, where no bacterial resistance was observed, bacterial isolates originating from triploid hosts displayed increased resistance to antibacterials, three of which were significant (tetracycline, trimethoprim, and sulphonamide).
Conclusion
Results indicate that triploidy influences both the community and drug resistance of culturable intestinal microbiota in juvenile salmon. These results demonstrate differences that are likely to contribute to the health of triploid fish and have important ramifications on the use of antibacterial drugs within aquaculture.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-71
PMCID: PMC3239839  PMID: 22094054
14.  Modelling Marek's Disease Virus (MDV) infection: parameter estimates for mortality rate and infectiousness 
Background
Marek's disease virus (MDV) is an economically important oncogenic herpesvirus of poultry. Since the 1960s, increasingly virulent strains have caused continued poultry industry production losses worldwide. To understand the mechanisms of this virulence evolution and to evaluate the epidemiological consequences of putative control strategies, it is imperative to understand how virulence is defined and how this correlates with host mortality and infectiousness during MDV infection. We present a mathematical approach to quantify key epidemiological parameters. Host lifespan, virus latent periods and host viral shedding rates were estimated for unvaccinated and vaccinated birds, infected with one of three MDV strains. The strains had previously been pathotyped to assign virulence scores according to pathogenicity of strains in hosts.
Results
Our analyses show that strains of higher virulence have a higher viral shedding rate, and more rapidly kill hosts. Vaccination enhances host life expectancy but does not significantly reduce the shedding rate of the virus. While the primary latent period of the virus does not vary with challenge strain nor vaccine treatment of host, the time until the maximum viral shedding rate is increased with vaccination.
Conclusions
Our approach provides the tools necessary for a formal analysis of the evolution of virulence in MDV, and potentially simpler and cheaper approaches to comparing the virulence of MDV strains.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-70
PMCID: PMC3226581  PMID: 22078942
15.  Factors associated with the occurrence of MRSA CC398 in herds of fattening pigs in Germany 
Background
The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of MRSA in herds of fattening pigs in different regions of Germany, and to determine factors associated with the occurrence of this pathogen. For this purpose pooled dust samples were collected, and a questionnaire covered information regarding herd characteristics and management practices. Samples were pre-enriched in high-salt medium followed by selective enrichment containing cefoxitin/aztreonam, and culturing. Presumptive colonies were confirmed by multiplex-PCR targeting nuc-, mecA- and 16S rRNA-genes. Isolates were spa- and SCCmec-, and in selected cases, multilocus sequence-typed. Susceptibilities to 13 antimicrobials were determined by broth microdilution. Statistical analysis was carried out using backward stepwise logistic regression to calculate odds ratios with the MRSA test result as the outcome and herd characteristics as categorical covariates.
Results
Overall, 152 of 290 (52%) fattening pig farms tested positive for MRSA. The prevalence in the east, north- and south-west of Germany ranged from 39 to 59%.
t011 (66%) and t034 (23%) were the most commonly identified spa-types, and 85% of isolates carried SCCmec Type V. Identified spa-types were all associated with clonal complex CC398. Susceptibility testing revealed that all isolates were resistant to tetracycline. High resistance rates were also found for sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (40%), and quinupristin/dalfopristin (32%). In addition, 83% of strains displayed multidrug resistant (> 3 substance classes) phenotypes.
Logistic regression revealed herd size (large farms OR: 5.4; CI: 2.7-11.2; p < 0.05), and production type (wean-to-finish OR: 4.0; CI: 1.6-10.4; p < 0.05) as risk factors associated with a positive MRSA finding in fattening pig operations.
Conclusions
MRSA CC398 is widely distributed among herds of fattening pigs in Germany. Farm management plays a crucial role in the dissemination of MRSA with herd size, and production type representing potential major indicators.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-69
PMCID: PMC3260235  PMID: 22074403
16.  High sero-prevalence of caseous lymphadenitis identified in slaughterhouse samples as a consequence of deficiencies in sheep farm management in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil 
Background
Caseous lymphadenitis (CLA), caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, is one of the most important diseases of sheep and goats, causing considerable economic losses for herd owners.
Results
We assessed the seroprevalence of infection with C. pseudotuberculosis in 805 sheep from 23 sheep farms that supply slaughterhouses in the state of Minas Gerais; we also analyzed management practices that could be associated with CLA occurrence, used on these and nearby farms that also supplied animals to the slaughterhouse (n = 60). The serum samples for assaying CLA infection were taken at the slaughterhouse. Frequency of infection with C. pseudotuberculosis was estimated at 43.7%, and farm frequency was estimated at 100%. Management practices were analyzed through a questionnaire. All farmers (60/60) had extensive/semi-extensive rearing system; 70.0% (42/60) identified sheep individually; 11.7% (7/60) had periodical technical assistance; 41.7% (25/60) disinfected the facilities; 86.7% (52/60) used barbed wire fences and did not implement adequate CLA control measures; only 11.7% (7/60) of breeders reported vaccination against C. pseudotuberculosis; 13.3% (8/60) took note of animals with clinical signs of CLA; 1.7% (1/60) opened and sanitized abscesses, and isolated the infected animals; 10.0% (6/60) knew the zoonotic potential of this disease and 1.7% (1/60) of the farmers culled animals in case of recurrence of abscesses.
Conclusions
It can be concluded that C. pseudotuberculosis infection is widely spread in sheep flocks in Minas Gerais state in Brazil and that there is a lack of good management measures and vaccination, allowing transmission of this infectious agent throughout the production network.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-68
PMCID: PMC3256107  PMID: 22067701
Caseous lymphadenitis; Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis; sheep; slaughterhouse; Minas Gerais
17.  Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays for the species-specific detection of Eimeria that infect chickens 
Background
Eimeria parasites can cause the disease coccidiosis in poultry and even subclinical infection can incur economic loss. Diagnosis of infection predominantly relies on traditional techniques including lesion scoring and faecal microscopy despite the availability of sensitive molecular assays, largely due to cost and the requirement for specialist equipment. Despite longstanding proven efficacy these traditional techniques demand time and expertise, can be highly subjective and may under-diagnose subclinical disease. Recognition of the tight economic margins prevailing in modern poultry production and the impact of avian coccidiosis on poverty in many parts of the world has highlighted a requirement for a panel of straightforward and sensitive, but cost-effective, Eimeria species-specific diagnostic assays.
Results
Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) is an uncomplicated, quick and relatively inexpensive diagnostic tool. In this study we have developed a panel of species-specific LAMP assays targeting the seven Eimeria species that infect the chicken. Each assay has been shown to be genuinely species-specific with the capacity to detect between one and ten eimerian genomes, equivalent to less than a single mature schizont. Development of a simple protocol for template DNA preparation from tissue collected post mortem with no requirement for specialist laboratory equipment supports the use of these assays in routine diagnosis of eimerian infection. Preliminary field testing supports this hypothesis.
Conclusions
Development of a panel of sensitive species-specific LAMP assays introduces a valuable new cost-effective tool for use in poultry husbandry.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-67
PMCID: PMC3217895  PMID: 22053893
18.  Generating social network data using partially described networks: an example informing avian influenza control in the British poultry industry 
Background
Targeted sampling can capture the characteristics of more vulnerable sectors of a population, but may bias the picture of population level disease risk. When sampling network data, an incomplete description of the population may arise leading to biased estimates of between-host connectivity. Avian influenza (AI) control planning in Great Britain (GB) provides one example where network data for the poultry industry (the Poultry Network Database or PND), targeted large premises and is consequently demographically biased. Exposing the effect of such biases on the geographical distribution of network properties could help target future poultry network data collection exercises. These data will be important for informing the control of potential future disease outbreaks.
Results
The PND was used to compute between-farm association frequencies, assuming that farms sharing the same slaughterhouse or catching company, or through integration, are potentially epidemiologically linked. The fitted statistical models were extrapolated to the Great Britain Poultry Register (GBPR); this dataset is more representative of the poultry industry but lacks network information. This comparison showed how systematic biases in the demographic characterisation of a network, resulting from targeted sampling procedures, can bias the derived picture of between-host connectivity within the network.
Conclusions
With particular reference to the predictive modeling of AI in GB, we find significantly different connectivity patterns across GB when network estimates incorporate the more demographically representative information provided by the GBPR; this has not been accounted for by previous epidemiological analyses. We recommend ranking geographical regions, based on relative confidence in extrapolated estimates, for prioritising further data collection. Evaluating whether and how the between-farm association frequencies impact on the risk of between-farm transmission will be the focus of future work.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-66
PMCID: PMC3275467  PMID: 22027039
19.  Expression patterns of intestinal calcium transport factors and ex-vivo absorption of calcium in horses 
Background
In many species, the small intestine is the major site of calcium (Ca2+) absorption. The horse differs considerably from most other species with regard to the physiology of its Ca2+ metabolism and digestion. Thus, this study was performed to get more information about the transcellular Ca2+ absorption in the horse.
Two mechanisms of intestinal Ca2+ absorption are described: the passive paracellular pathway and the active, vitamin D-dependent transcellular pathway. The latter involves the following elements: vitamin D receptors (VDR), transient receptor potential vanilloid channel members 5 and 6 (TRPV5/6), calbindin-D9k (CB), the Na/Ca exchanger (NCX1) and the plasma membrane Ca-ATPase (PMCA). The aim of the present study was to investigate the protein and mRNA expression patterns of VDR, CB and TRPV6 and the ex-vivo Ca2+ absorption in horses, assessed by qualitative and quantitative RT-PCR, western blot, immunohistochemistry and the Ussing chamber technique.
Results
Highest CB and TRPV6 mRNA levels were detected in the duodenum as compared to the middle parts of the jejunum and ileum and several sites of the large intestine. VDR mRNA levels did not change significantly throughout the intestine. TRPV5 mRNA was not detectable in the horse intestine. The highest VDR and CB protein levels were measured in the duodenum. Ussing chamber studies revealed ex-vivo Ca2+ absorption only in the duodenum, but not in cecum and specific sites of the colon.
Conclusion
The present findings suggest that TRPV6, CB and VDR may be involved in active intestinal Ca2+ absorption in horses, as described for other mammals. TRPV5 may not play a major role in this process. Furthermore, the expression patterns of these Ca2+ transport elements and the results of the Ussing chamber procedure indicate that a significant part of active intestinal Ca2+ absorption occurs in the duodenum in this species.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-65
PMCID: PMC3221622  PMID: 22017756
20.  Overexpression of α-enolase correlates with poor survival in canine mammary carcinoma 
Background
α-Enolase (ENO1) is a key glycolytic enzyme implicated in the development of many human cancers including breast cancer. Increased expression of ENO1 has recently been reported in estrogen (ER)-positive human breast cancer patients. The present study examined the expression of ENO1 and assessed its significance in canine mammary carcinoma.
Results
Immunohistochemical staining was employed to investigate the expression of ENO1 in 82 cases of canine mammary tumor (32 benign tumors and 50 carcinomas). Quantification of immunohistochemistry was carried out using Quick score and the results showed cytoplasmic ENO1 overexpression in 9 of the 50 carcinomas (18%). Overexpression of ENO1 correlated significantly with shorter cause-specific survival (P = 0.019), but was not associated with ER positivity in canine mammary carcinoma.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that overexpression of ENO1 may be used as a prognostic marker for poor outcome in canine mammary carcinoma.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-62
PMCID: PMC3207881  PMID: 22014164
21.  Investigation of an outbreak of mycobacteriosis in pigs 
Background
A high proportion of pigs imported to Serbia from a Lithuanian breeding herd reacted positively against avian and/or bovine tuberculin. The pigs were euthanized and lesions characteristic for mycobacterial infection were detected. An investigation of potential mycobacteriosis in the pigs imported to Serbia and the possible source of infection in the Lithuanian herd were therefore initialised.
Results
Formalin fixed, paraffin embedded lymph nodes from tuberculin positive animals were examined by real-time PCR for IS1245 and IS6110. IS1245 was detected in 55% and IS6110 in 11% of the samples. Seven of the ten IS6110 positive samples were positive for IS1245. Eleven lymph nodes from 10 pigs and 15 environmental samples were collected from the Lithuanian breeding herd and cultured for mycobacteria. M. avium subsp. hominissuis was detected in all lymph nodes and from eight samples of peat and sawdust. Isolates with identical and related IS1245- and IS1311 RFLP profiles were detected from swine and peat.
Conclusions
This study demonstrated cross reactions between avian and bovine tuberculin in pigs. Real-time PCR indicated infection with M. avium in the Serbian pigs. However, as a small proportion of the lymph nodes were positive for IS6110, infection with bacteria in the M. tuberculosis complex could not be ruled out. Analyses confirmed the presence of M. avium subsp. hominissuis in porcine and environmental samples from the Lithuanian breeding herd. The results indicate peat as a source of M. avium subsp. hominissuis infection in these pigs, and that the pigs imported to Serbia were infected with M. avium subsp. hominissuis.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-63
PMCID: PMC3215643  PMID: 22014189
22.  Outcome of experimental porcine circovirus type 1 infections in mid-gestational porcine foetuses 
Background
Porcine circovirus type 1 (PCV1) has been described as a non-cytopathic contaminant of the PK-15 cell line. Several experimental infections with PCV1 failed to reproduce disease in pigs. Therefore, PCV1 is generally accepted as non-pathogenic to pigs. To our knowledge, nothing is known about the outcome of PCV1 infections in porcine foetuses. This was examined in the present study.
Results
Nine foetuses from three sows were inoculated at 55 days of gestation: three with 104.3 TCID50 of the PCV1 cell culture strain ATCC-CCL33, three with 104.3 TCID50 of the PCV1 field strain 3384 and three with cell culture medium (mock-inoculated). At 21 days post-inoculation, all 6 PCV1-inoculated and all 3 mock-inoculated foetuses had a normal external appearance. Microscopic lesions characterized by severe haemorrhages were observed in the lungs of two foetuses inoculated with CCL33. High PCV1 titres (up to 104.7 TCID50/g tissue) were found in the lungs of the CCL33-inoculated foetuses. All other organs of the CCL33-inoculated foetuses and all the organs of the 3384-inoculated foetuses were negative (< 101.7 TCID50/g tissue) by virus titration. PCV1-positive cells (up to 121 cells/10 mm2 in CCL33-inoculated foetuses and up to 13 cells/10 mm2 in 3384-inoculated foetuses) were found in the heart, lungs, spleen, liver, thymus and tonsils. PCR and DNA sequencing of Rep recovered CCL33 or 3384 sequences from CCL33- or 3384-inoculated foetuses, respectively.
Conclusions
From this study, it can be concluded that cell culture PCV1 can replicate efficiently and produce pathology in the lungs of porcine foetuses inoculated at 55 days of foetal life.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-64
PMCID: PMC3216242  PMID: 22018436
23.  Herd prevalence of bovine brucellosis and analysis of risk factors in cattle in urban and peri-urban areas of the Kampala economic zone, Uganda 
Background
Human brucellosis has been found to be prevalent in the urban areas of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. A cross-sectional study was designed to generate precise information on the prevalence of brucellosis in cattle and risk factors for the disease in its urban and peri-urban dairy farming systems.
Results
The adjusted herd prevalence of brucellosis was 6.5% (11/177, 95% CI: 3.6%-10.0%) and the adjusted individual animal prevalence was 5.0% (21/423, 95% CI: 2.7% - 9.3%) based on diagnosis using commercial kits of the competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (CELISA) for Brucella abortus antibodies. Mean within-herd prevalence was found to be 25.9% (95% CI: 9.7% - 53.1%) and brucellosis prevalence in an infected herd ranged from 9.1% to 50%. A risk factor could not be identified at the animal level but two risk factors were identified at the herd level: large herd size and history of abortion. The mean number of milking cows in a free-grazing herd (5.0) was significantly larger than a herd with a movement restricted (1.7, p < 0.001).
Conclusions
Vaccination should be targeted at commercial large-scale farms with free-grazing farming to control brucellosis in cattle in and around Kampala city.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-60
PMCID: PMC3212899  PMID: 22004574
24.  Diseases in free-ranging bats from Germany 
Background
The emergence of important viral diseases and their potential threat to humans has increased the interest in bats as potential reservoir species. Whereas the majority of studies determined the occurrence of specific zoonotic agents in chiropteran species, little is known about actual bat pathogens and impacts of disease on bat mortality. Combined pathological and microbiological investigations in free-ranging bats are sparse and often limited by small sample sizes. In the present study about 500 deceased bats of 19 European species (family Vespertilionidae) were subjected to a post-mortem examination followed by histo-pathological and bacteriological investigations. The bat carcasses originated from different geographical regions in Germany and were collected by bat researchers and bat rehabilitation centers.
Results
Pathological examination revealed inflammatory lesions in more than half of the investigated bats. Lung was the predominantly affected organ (40%) irrespective of bat species, sex and age. To a lesser extent non-inflammatory organ tissue changes were observed. Comparative analysis of histo-pathology and bacteriology results identified 22 different bacterial species that were clearly associated with pathological lesions. Besides disease-related mortality, traumatic injuries represented an additional major cause of death. Here, attacks by domestic cats accounted for almost a half of these cases.
Conclusions
The present study shows that free-ranging bats not only serve as a reservoir of infectious agents, they are also vulnerable to various infectious diseases. Some of these microbial agents have zoonotic potential, but there is no evidence that European bats would pose a higher health hazard risk to humans in comparison to other wildlife.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-61
PMCID: PMC3219556  PMID: 22008235
25.  The potential spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus via dynamic contacts between poultry premises in Great Britain 
Background
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses have had devastating effects on poultry industries worldwide, and there is concern about the potential for HPAI outbreaks in the poultry industry in Great Britain (GB). Critical to the potential for HPAI to spread between poultry premises are the connections made between farms by movements related to human activity. Movement records of catching teams and slaughterhouse vehicles were obtained from a large catching company, and these data were used in a simulation model of HPAI spread between farms serviced by the catching company, and surrounding (geographic) areas. The spread of HPAI through real-time movements was modelled, with the addition of spread via company personnel and local transmission.
Results
The model predicted that although large outbreaks are rare, they may occur, with long distances between infected premises. Final outbreak size was most sensitive to the probability of spread via slaughterhouse-linked movements whereas the probability of onward spread beyond an index premises was most sensitive to the frequency of company personnel movements.
Conclusions
Results obtained from this study show that, whilst there is the possibility that HPAI virus will jump from one cluster of farms to another, movements made by catching teams connected fewer poultry premises in an outbreak situation than slaughterhouses and company personnel. The potential connection of a large number of infected farms, however, highlights the importance of retaining up-to-date data on poultry premises so that control measures can be effectively prioritised in an outbreak situation.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-59
PMCID: PMC3224601  PMID: 21995783

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