Summary Fleas (Insecta: Siphonaptera) are obligate bloodsucking insects, which parasitize birds and mammals, and are distributed throughout the world. Several species have been implicated in pathogen transmission. This study aimed to monitor red foxes and the fleas isolated from them in the Palermo and Ragusa provinces of Sicily, Italy, as these organisms are potential reservoirs and vectors of pathogens. Thirteen foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and 110 fleas were analysed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect DNA of the pathogens Ehrlichia canis, Babesia microti, Rickettsia spp., Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Anaplasma platys, Anaplasma marginale and Anaplasma ovis. In the foxes, A. ovis was detected in only one animal, whereas the prevalence of the E. canis pathogen was 31%. B. microti and Rickettsia spp. were not detected. Of all of the collected fleas, 75 belonged to the species Xenopsylla cheopis, 32 belonged to Ctenocephalides canis, two belonged to Ctenocephalides felis and one belonged to Cediopsylla inaequalis. In the fleas, the following pathogens were found: A. ovis (prevalence 25%), A. marginale (1%), A. phagocytophilum (1%), Rickettsia felis (2%) and E. canis (3%). X. cheopis was the flea species most frequently infected with Anaplasma, in particular A. ovis (33%), A. marginale (1%) and A. phagocytophilum (1%). Both C. felis exemplars were positive for R. felis. E. canis was found in the lone C. inaequalis and also in 3% of the X. cheopis specimens. No fleas were positive for B. microti or A. platys. As foxes often live in proximity to domestic areas, they may constitute potential reservoirs for human and animal parasites. Further studies should be performed on fleas to determine their vectorial capacity.
An international collaborative study of 45 transplant centers was undertaken at the 14th International HLA (human leukocyte antigen) and Immunogenetics Workshop to see if HLA antibodies detected posttransplant are predictive of chronic graft failure. With the newly developed assay, MICA (major histocompatibility complex class I-related chain A) antibodies were also measured and their effect analyzed. Total of 5219 sera from patients who were more than 6 months posttransplant with functioning graft were tested for HLA antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, flow cytometry, or Luminex. HLA antibodies were found in 27.2% of kidney patients, 23.6% in the liver, 52.7% in the heart, and 21.7% in the lung. The method of antibody testing did not have a marked influence on the frequency of antibodies detected. MICA antibodies were detected in 15% of kidney patients, 30% of heart patients, and 31% of liver patients. Among 948 kidney patients who had HLA antibodies, 7.3% had rejected their graft within 1 year of testing, compared with 1.7% in 2615 patients without HLA antibodies (P= 0.8 x 10(-17)). Death occurred in 1.4% of total kidney patients and did not correlate to the presence of antibodies. We conclude that patients with posttransplant HLA antibodies indeed have a higher rate of chronic graft failure and that posttransplant antibodies are predictive of chronic rejection.
BackgroundIn rural parts of Africa, dogs live in close association with humans and livestock, roam freely, and usually do not receive prophylactic measures. Thus, they are a source of infectious disease for humans and for wildlife such as protected carnivores. In 2011, an epidemiological study was carried out around three conservation areas in Uganda to detect the presence and determine the prevalence of vector-borne pathogens in rural dogs and associated ticks to evaluate the risk that these pathogens pose to humans and wildlife.MethodsSerum samples (n = 105), blood smears (n = 43) and blood preserved on FTA cards (n = 38) and ticks (58 monospecific pools of Haemaphysalis leachi and Rhipicephalus praetextatus including 312 ticks from 52 dogs) were collected from dogs. Dog sera were tested by indirect immunofluorescence to detect the presence of antibodies against Rickettsia conorii and Ehrlichia canis. Antibodies against R. conorii were also examined by indirect enzyme immunoassay. Real time PCR for the detection of Rickettsia spp., Anaplasmataceae, Bartonella spp. and Babesia spp. was performed in DNA extracted from FTA cards and ticks.Results99 % of the dogs were seropositive to Rickettsia spp. and 29.5 % to Ehrlichia spp. Molecular analyses revealed that 7.8 % of the blood samples were infected with Babesia rossi, and all were negative for Rickettsia spp. and Ehrlichia spp. Ticks were infected with Rickettsia sp. (18.9 %), including R. conorii and R. massiliae; Ehrlichia sp. (18.9 %), including E. chaffeensis and Anaplasma platys; and B. rossi (1.7 %). Bartonella spp. was not detected in any of the blood or tick samples.ConclusionsThis study confirms the presence of previously undetected vector-borne pathogens of humans and animals in East Africa. We recommend that dog owners in rural Uganda be advised to protect their animals against ectoparasites to prevent the transmission of pathogens to humans and wildlife.
BackgroundDespite the use of chemical acaricides, tick infestations continue to affect animal health and production worldwide. Tick vaccines have been proposed as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative for tick control. Vaccination with the candidate tick protective antigen, Subolesin (SUB), has been shown experimentally to be effective in controlling vector infestations and pathogen infection. Furthermore, Escherichia coli membranes containing the chimeric antigen composed of SUB fused to Anaplasma marginale Major Surface Protein 1a (MSP1a) (SUB-MSP1a) were produced using a simple low-cost process and proved to be effective for the control of cattle tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus and R. annulatus infestations in pen trials. In this research, field trials were conducted to characterize the effect of vaccination with SUB-MSP1a on tick infestations and the prevalence of tick-borne pathogens in a randomized controlled prospective study.MethodsTwo cattle and two sheep farms with similar geographical locations and production characteristics were randomly assigned to control and vaccinated groups. Ticks were collected, counted, weighed and classified and the prevalence of tick-borne pathogens at the DNA and serological levels were followed for one year prior to and 9 months after vaccination.ResultsBoth cattle and sheep developed antibodies against SUB in response to vaccination. The main effect of the vaccine in cattle was the 8-fold reduction in the percent of infested animals while vaccination in sheep reduced tick infestations by 63%. Female tick weight was 32-55% lower in ticks collected from both vaccinated cattle and sheep when compared to controls. The seroprevalence of Babesia bigemina was lower by 30% in vaccinated cattle, suggesting a possible role for the vaccine in decreasing the prevalence of this tick-borne pathogen. The effect of the vaccine in reducing the frequency of one A. marginale msp4 genotype probably reflected the reduction in the prevalence of a tick-transmitted strain as a result of the reduction in the percent of tick-infested cattle.ConclusionsThese data provide evidence of the dual effect of a SUB-based vaccine for controlling tick infestations and pathogen infection/transmission and provide additional support for the use of the SUB-MSP1a vaccine for tick control in cattle and sheep.
It has been estimated that 44,000 Caretta caretta turtles die every year due to anthropomorphic activity in the Mediterranean Sea, and that longline fishing is one of the most significant causes of mortality. A total of 482 specimens of C. caretta were rescued from different parts of the Sicilian coast (Mediterranean Sea) from 2014 to 2016. The most numerous stranding was recorded during the spring and summer seasons, mainly along the north and eastern coasts of Sicily. The curved carapace length for all the specimens ranged from between 19 and 95 cm and most of these were young or sub adults. The highest number of strandings was recorded in 2014 and 2015, with 206 and 169 individuals, respectively. A total of 66 live specimens out of 239 were successfully rehabilitated and released after surgery or drug therapy; fishing hooks were found in 129 specimens in different parts of the digestive tract with greater frequency in the oesophagus (47.3%) followed by the gut (24.8%), stomach (14.7%), and mouth (13.2%). This paper will highlight the incidence of the incidental catch by longline fishing of C. caretta along the Sicilian coasts and also relate the size of ingested hooks to the size of examined specimens.
Caretta caretta is threatened by many dangers in the Mediterranean basin, but most are human-related. The purposes of this research were: (i) to investigate microflora in samples from six loggerhead sea turtle nests located on the Sicilian coast and (ii) to understand microbial diversity associated with nests, with particular attention to bacteria and fungi involved in failed hatchings. During the 2016 and 2018 summers, 456 eggs and seven dead hatchling from six nests were collected. We performed bacteriological and mycological analyses on 88 egg samples and seven dead hatchlings, allowing us to isolate: Fusarium spp. (80.6%), Aeromonas hydrophila (55.6%), Aspergillus spp. (27.2%) and Citrobacter freundii (9%). Two Fusarium species were identified by microscopy and were confirmed by PCR and internal transcribed spacer sequencing. Statistical analyses showed significant differences between nests and the presence/absence of microflora, whereas no significant differences were observed between eggs and nests. This is the first report that catalogues microflora from C. caretta nests/eggs in the Mediterranean Sea and provides key information on potential pathogens that may affect hatching success. Moreover, our results suggest the need for wider investigations over extensive areas to identify other microflora, and to better understand hatching failures and mortality related to microbial contamination in this important turtle species.
Background: MAZE IV surgery is effective in restoring sinus rhythm (SR) and atrial contraction (AC) in patients with nonrheumatic persistent atrial fibrillation (AF). However, there is less information on its effectiveness to restore AC in patients with rheumatic disease. Aims: To assess the effectiveness of the MAZE IV surgery in restoring AC in patients with rheumatic disease and long persistent AF. Methods: Prospective, consecutive study in patients who underwent cardiovascular surgery and had long persistent AF in whom MAZE IV surgery was performed. The presence of AC was assessed by lateral mitral annulus tissue Doppler. Results: A total of 75 patients were included. Mean age 60 years (±11.7); 27 men (36%). AF duration was 63 months (±34.1). Primary indication for surgery: rheumatic mitral stenosis 67 patients and mitral insufficiency eight patients. Mean left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was 51.8% (±12.1) and mean left atrial area was 37 cm2 (±10.3). After a mean follow‐up of 28 months (±9.3), 69 patients remained alive and 59 were in SR. AC was detected in 37.3% (Group A) and absent in 62.7% (Group B). The mean difference between groups was the high prevalence of AF longer than 5 years in group B (P = 0.000001). There were no differences related to left atrial size, LVEF, and age. Conclusions: In patients with rheumatic disease, the absence of correlation between SR recovery and AC recovery post MAZE IV surgery is significant. A history of long persistent AF lasting more than 5 years was a strong predictor for the absence of AC. (PACE 2012; 35:999–1004)
Tick-transmitted pathogens cause infectious diseases in both humans and animals. Different types of adaptive immune mechanisms could be induced in hosts by these microorganisms, triggered either directly by pathogen antigens or indirectly through soluble factors, such as cytokines and/or chemokines, secreted by host cells as response. Adaptive immunity effectors, such as antibody secretion and cytotoxic and/or T helper cell responses, are mainly involved in the late and long-lasting protective immune response. Proteins and/or epitopes derived from pathogens and tick vectors have been isolated and characterized for the immune response induced in different hosts. This review was focused on the interactions between tick-borne pathogenic hemoparasites and different host effector mechanisms of T- and/or B cell-mediated adaptive immunity, describing the efforts to define immunodominant proteins or epitopes for vaccine development and/or immunotherapeutic purposes. A better understanding of these mechanisms of host immunity could lead to the assessment of possible new immunotherapies for these pathogens as well as to the prediction of possible new candidate vaccine antigens.
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