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Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2020 Jan 27:101389. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2020.101389. [Epub ahead of print]

Molecular survey of tick-borne pathogens reveals a high prevalence and low genetic variability of Hepatozoon canis in free-ranging grey wolves (Canis lupus) in Germany.

Author information

1
Institute of Parasitology, Department of Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
2
Institute of Parasitology, Department of Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, Moedling, Austria. Electronic address: georg.duscher@ages.at.
3
Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz, Görlitz, Germany.
4
Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany.
5
Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz, Görlitz, Germany; International Institute Zittau, Technische Universität Dresden, Zittau, Germany.
6
Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle, Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

Abstract

Wild carnivores are important hosts for ixodid ticks and presumed reservoirs for several tick-borne pathogens (TBPs) of medical and veterinary importance. However, little is known about the role that the European grey wolf (Canis lupus) plays in the enzootic cycle of TBPs. The recent recolonization of Central European lowland, including some regions in Germany, by the grey wolf, opened up an excellent opportunity for studying the impact of the wolf population on pathogen diversity and transmission dynamics. Therefore, in the present study, we investigated spleen samples collected from 276 grey wolves in 11 federal states in Germany for common TBPs by molecular methods. In total, 127 grey wolves (46.0 %) were found to be positive for Hepatozoon canis. Only two genetic variants of this protozoan parasite (herein designated as G1 and G2) were found to circulate among the grey wolves, which can be potentially shared between populations of domestic and other wild carnivores in the country. Two grey wolves were positive for Anaplasma phagocytophilum (0.7 %), and both were co-infected with H. canis G1 genotype. The presence of other pathogens could not be confirmed by PCR and sequencing. This study represents the first one reporting H. canis in a grey wolf population worldwide, and it provides highly relevant information, which may contribute to a better understanding of the epidemiology of TBPs and the pathogen transmission dynamics among the reintroduced population of grey wolves and other carnivores.

KEYWORDS:

Anaplasma phagocytophilum; Canis lupus; Genotypes; Germany; Grey wolf; Hepatozoon canis

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