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J Wildl Dis. 2011 Jul;47(3):734-8.

European hares in Chile: a different lagomorph reservoir for Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis?

Author information

1
Biochemistry and Microbiology Department, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad Austral de Chile, Edificio Instapanel, Campus Isla Teja, Valdivia, Chile. miguelsalgado@uach.cl

Abstract

Ruminants are the principal host for infection by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map), the cause of Johne's disease. Based on studies of a Map-infected population of European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Scotland, lagomorphs as a broad taxonomic order were proposed as potential nonruminant reservoirs for Map. To determine whether a different lagomorph species may serve as a wildlife reservoir, we investigated Map infection in European hares (Lepus europaeus) sharing habitat with known Map-infected dairy cattle in southern Chile. Fecal, mesenteric lymph node, and ileal samples were aseptically collected from 385 wild hares for liquid culture and real-time polymerase chain reaction identification of acid-fast isolates. All tissue samples were also acid-fast stained and examined microscopically. We isolated Map from at least one tissue from 48 hares (12.6%) and fecal samples from 16 hares (4.2%). No Map was found in tissues of eight of the fecal-culture-positive hares. Histologically, all tissues from all hares were within normal limits, and no acid-fast organisms were observed in any sample. Active infection, implying amplification of the organism secondary to resultant disease, was not evident. With this report Map isolations on a population versus incidental detection have now been made from two lagomorph species. However, although the rabbit population studied in Scotland appears to function as a Map reservoir, the hares studied in Chile appear to be a dead-end host, serving only as potential mechanical vectors for the organism.

PMID:
21719843
DOI:
10.7589/0090-3558-47.3.734
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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