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Molecular detection of tick-borne pathogens Borrelia afzelii, Borrelia miyamotoi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris)

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Abstract
Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) are common hosts of ixodid ticks and could thus carry tick-borne disease agents. The relative contribution of the red squirrel, a medium-sized rodent species, to the transmission dynamics of tick-borne pathogens in Europe yet remains unclear. We analysed spleen and liver samples from 45 dead squirrels collected in Flanders, Belgium, during tick activity season and detected the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. in the spleen of two squirrels (4.4%). One of the sequences could be identified as Borrelia afzelii. Borrelia miyamotoi was detected in the spleen of three squirrels (6.7%) and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in four spleen samples (8.9%). Both A. phagocytophilum ecotype I and II were found. We could not detect the presence of "Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis" or tick-borne encephalitis virus in any of the squirrels. Our results suggest that Eurasian red squirrels can host B. afzelii, as already proposed by previous studies, but we could not confirm the previous established association between squirrels and B. burgdorferi sensu stricto. Our results demonstrate the epidemiological importance of the red squirrel, particularly in (sub) urban areas, since they can harbour a similar community of tick-borne pathogens as do mice and voles and can act as hosts for A. phagocytophilum ecotype I, which has important implications for human health risk.
Keywords
Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Borrelia miyamotoi, 'Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis', Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), Tick-borne encephalitis virus, BURGDORFERI SENSU-LATO, CANDIDATUS NEOEHRLICHIA MIKURENSIS, IXODES-RICINUS, LYME BORRELIOSIS, TRANSMISSION DYNAMICS, EUROPE, ASSOCIATION, RODENTS, SWITZERLAND, RESERVOIRS

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Citation

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Chicago
Ruyts, Sanne, Ewa Frazer-Mendelewska, Koen Van Den Berge, Kris Verheyen, and Hein Sprong. 2017. “Molecular Detection of Tick-borne Pathogens Borrelia Afzelii, Borrelia Miyamotoi and Anaplasma Phagocytophilum in Eurasian Red Squirrels (Sciurus Vulgaris).” European Journal of Wildlife Research 63 (3).
APA
Ruyts, S., Frazer-Mendelewska, E., Van Den Berge, K., Verheyen, K., & Sprong, H. (2017). Molecular detection of tick-borne pathogens Borrelia afzelii, Borrelia miyamotoi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE RESEARCH, 63(3).
Vancouver
1.
Ruyts S, Frazer-Mendelewska E, Van Den Berge K, Verheyen K, Sprong H. Molecular detection of tick-borne pathogens Borrelia afzelii, Borrelia miyamotoi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE RESEARCH. 2017;63(3).
MLA
Ruyts, Sanne et al. “Molecular Detection of Tick-borne Pathogens Borrelia Afzelii, Borrelia Miyamotoi and Anaplasma Phagocytophilum in Eurasian Red Squirrels (Sciurus Vulgaris).” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE RESEARCH 63.3 (2017): n. pag. Print.
@article{8530695,
  abstract     = {Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) are common hosts of ixodid ticks and could thus carry tick-borne disease agents. The relative contribution of the red squirrel, a medium-sized rodent species, to the transmission dynamics of tick-borne pathogens in Europe yet remains unclear. We analysed spleen and liver samples from 45 dead squirrels collected in Flanders, Belgium, during tick activity season and detected the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. in the spleen of two squirrels (4.4%). One of the sequences could be identified as Borrelia afzelii. Borrelia miyamotoi was detected in the spleen of three squirrels (6.7%) and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in four spleen samples (8.9%). Both A. phagocytophilum ecotype I and II were found. We could not detect the presence of "Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis" or tick-borne encephalitis virus in any of the squirrels. Our results suggest that Eurasian red squirrels can host B. afzelii, as already proposed by previous studies, but we could not confirm the previous established association between squirrels and B. burgdorferi sensu stricto. Our results demonstrate the epidemiological importance of the red squirrel, particularly in (sub) urban areas, since they can harbour a similar community of tick-borne pathogens as do mice and voles and can act as hosts for A. phagocytophilum ecotype I, which has important implications for human health risk.},
  articleno    = {43},
  author       = {Ruyts, Sanne and Frazer-Mendelewska, Ewa and Van Den Berge, Koen and Verheyen, Kris and Sprong, Hein},
  issn         = {1612-4642},
  journal      = {EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE RESEARCH},
  keywords     = {Anaplasma phagocytophilum,Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato,Borrelia miyamotoi,'Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis',Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris),Tick-borne encephalitis virus,BURGDORFERI SENSU-LATO,CANDIDATUS NEOEHRLICHIA MIKURENSIS,IXODES-RICINUS,LYME BORRELIOSIS,TRANSMISSION DYNAMICS,EUROPE,ASSOCIATION,RODENTS,SWITZERLAND,RESERVOIRS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {4},
  title        = {Molecular detection of tick-borne pathogens Borrelia afzelii, Borrelia miyamotoi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris)},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10344-017-1104-7},
  volume       = {63},
  year         = {2017},
}

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