This study focuses on the detection and identification of DNA and antibodies to Ehrlichia spp. in samples of blood bank donors in Costa Rica using molecular and serological techniques. Presence of Ehrlichia canis was determined in 10 (3.6%) out of 280 blood samples using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting the ehrlichial dsb conserved gene. Analysis of the ehrlichial trp36 polymorphic gene in these 10 samples revealed substantial polymorphism among the E. canis genotypes, including divergent tandem repeat sequences. Nucleotide sequences of dsb and trp36 amplicons revealed a novel genotype of E. canis in blood bank donors from Costa Rica. Indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) detected antibodies in 35 (35%) of 100 serum samples evaluated. Thirty samples showed low endpoint titers (64-256) to E. canis, whereas five sera yielded high endpoint titers (1024-8192); these five samples were also E. canis-PCR positive. These findings represent the first report of the presence of E. canis in humans in Central America.
The objective of this study was to determine Salmonella counts, serovars, and antimicrobial-resistant phenotypes on retail raw chicken carcasses in Colombia. A total of 301 chicken carcasses were collected from six departments (one city per department) in Colombia. Samples were analyzed for Salmonella counts using the most-probable-number method as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service protocol. A total of 378 isolates (268 from our previous study) were serotyped and tested for antimicrobial susceptibility. The overall Salmonella count (mean log most probable number per carcass ± 95% confidence interval) and prevalence were 2.1 (2.0 to 2.3) and 37%, respectively. There were significant differences (P < 0.05) by Salmonella levels (i.e., counts and prevalence) by storage temperature (i.e., frozen, chilled, or ambient), retail store type (wet markets, supermarkets, and independent markets), and poultry company (chicken produced by integrated or nonintegrated company). Frozen chicken had the lowest Salmonella levels compared with chicken stored at other temperatures, chickens from wet markets had higher levels than those from other retail store types, and chicken produced by integrated companies had lower levels than nonintegrated companies. Thirty-one Salmonella serovars were identified among 378 isolates, with Salmonella Paratyphi B tartrate-positive (i.e., Salmonella Paratyphi B dT+) the most prevalent (44.7%), followed by Heidelberg (19%), Enteritidis (17.7%), Typhimurium (5.3%), and Anatum (2.1%). Of all the Salmonella isolates, 35.2% were resistant to 1 to 5 antimicrobial agents, 24.6% to 6 to 10, and 33.9% to 11 to 15. Among all the serovars obtained, Salmonella Paratyphi B dT+ and Salmonella Heidelberg were the most antimicrobial resistant. Salmonella prevalence was determined to be high, whereas cell numbers were relatively low. These data can be used in developing risk assessment models for preventing the transmission of Salmonella from chicken to humans in Colombia.
A cross-sectional study combining different serological and molecular techniques for the detection of Ehrlichia species in dogs and their ticks was carried out with data from all regions of Costa Rica. A seroprevalence of 32.1% (131/408), and infection with E. canis of 3.2% (13/407) was found, whereas 6.9% (9/130) of ticks attached to the dogs were PCR positive to E. canis. Higher prevalences were found outside the Greater Metropolitan Area (GMA). Risk factors associated with E. canis seropositivity were age, between 2 and 7 years (RR: 1.6, 95% CI: 1.2-2.2) and 8-15 years (RR: 1.8, 95% CI: 1.2-3.0), number of dogs/total of households [Dogs per Household Ratio (DHR) ≥3.1 (RR: 2.0; 95% CI: 1.4-3.0)], number of dogs infested with at least one tick/total of dogs sampled [Tick Infestation Prevalence (TIP)≥31% (RR: 2.1; 95% CI:1.3-3.3)] and living outside the GMA (RR: 1.7; 95% CI: 1.2-2.4) and being a mixed-breed dog (RR: 1.5; 95% CI: 1.1-2.1). Risk factors for E. canis PCR positive dogs were a depressive attitude (OR: 11.2; 95% CI: 1.1-115.9), fever (OR:4.8; 95% CI:1.2-19.3), DHR≥3.1 (OR: 5.7; 95% CI:1.7-19.2)], number of ticks/total of dogs sampled [Tick Distribution Ratio (TDR) ≥2.1 (OR: 6.5; 95% CI: 1.3-31.8)], and TIP≥40% (OR: 5.7; 95% CI: 1.7-19.2). This paper describes E. canis seroprevalence, PCR prevalence and tick analysis in dogs from Costa Rica, with associated clinical signs and owner perceptions. In summary, most of the E. canis infections in dogs in our country seemed to pass unnoticed by owners. Since most of the seropositive dogs (97.7%, 131/134) were negative for E. canis DNA in their blood, it is important to determine in future studies if these dogs recovered from the E. canis infection without any medication, or are persistently infected, and will develop chronic disease.
Brucellosis, caused by Brucella abortus is a major disease of cattle and a zoonosis. In order to estimate the bovine brucellosis prevalence in Costa Rica (CR), a total 765 herds (13078 bovines) from six regions of CR were randomly sampled during 2012–2013. A non-random sample of 7907 herds (532199 bovines) of the six regions, arriving for diagnoses during 2014–2016 to the Costa Rican Animal Health Service was also studied. The prevalence estimated by Rose Bengal test (RBT) ranged from 10.5%-11.4%; alternatively, the prevalence estimated by testing the RBT positives in iELISA, ranged from 4.1%-6.0%, respectively. However, cattle in CR are not vaccinated with B. abortus S19 but with RB51 (vaccination coverage close to 11%), and under these conditions the RBT displays 99% specificity and 99% sensitivity. Therefore, the RBT herd depicted in the random analysis stands as a feasible assessment and then, the recommended value in case of planning an eradication program in CR. Studies of three decades reveled that bovine brucellosis prevalence has increased in CR. B. abortus was identified by biochemical and molecular studies as the etiological agent of bovine brucellosis. Multiple locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis-16 revealed four B. abortus clusters. Cluster one and three are intertwined with isolates from other countries, while clusters two and four have only representatives from CR. Cluster one is widely distributed in all regions of the country and may be the primary B. abortus source. The other clusters seem to be restricted to specific areas in CR. The implications of our findings, in relation to the control of the disease in CR, are critically discussed.
The aim of this study was to determine risk factors associated with milk fever (MF) occurrence in Costa Rican grazing dairy cattle. A total of 69,870 cows from 126 dairy herds were included in the study. Data were collected in the Veterinary Automated Management and Production Control Program software by the Population Medicine Research Program of the Veterinary Medicine School, National University of Costa Rica, from 1985 to 2014. To determine the risk factors for MF, 2 logistic regression mixed models were evaluated. The first model used breed, month of calving, ecological life zone, herd nested within ecological life zone, and parity as fixed effects. The second model excluded first-lactation animals and cows without production information, had the same fixed effects of the first model, and added previous MF case, previous lactation length, previous dry period length, previous corrected 305-d milk yield, and calving interval length as fixed effects. Both models used animal and year as random effects. Of the 235,971 recorded lactations, 4,312 (1.83%) reported MF event. The significantly associated risk factors for MF occurrence, ranked by their highest odds ratio (OR), were parity (OR = 52.59), previous dry period length (OR = 4.21), ecological life zone (OR = 3.20), breed (OR = 3.04), previous corrected 305-d milk yield (OR = 2.39), previous MF case (OR = 2.35), and month of calving (OR = 1.36). The findings of this study are the first data reported using an epidemiological approach to study risk factors for MF in Costa Rican dairy cattle. Some of these results might be used to improve preventive management practices at the farms to reduce the incidence of this metabolic disease in grazing dairy herds.
A cross-sectional study was carried out in four indigenous communities of Costa Rica to detect presence and prevalence of Babesia caballi and Theileria equi and to investigate factors associated with presence of these hemoparasites. General condition of horses (n = 285) was evaluated, and hematocrits and hemoglobin were determined from blood samples of 130 horses, which were also analyzed using blood smears, nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and immunosorbent assay (c-ELISA). The general condition of the horses (n = 285) in terms of their body and coat was between regular and poor, and hematocrit and hemoglobin average values were low (19% and 10.65 g/dL, resp.). Erythrocyte inclusions were observed in 32 (24.6%) of the samples. Twenty-six samples (20.0%) gave positive results for B. caballi and 60 (46.2%) for T. equi; 10 horses (7.7%) showed mixed infection, when analyzed by PCR. Using c-ELISA, it was found that 90 (69.2%) horses had antibodies against B. caballi and 115 (88.5%) against T. equi, while 81 (62.3%) showed mixed reactions. There were no factors associated with the presence of B. caballi and T. equi. These results contrast with results previously obtained in equines in the Central Valley of Costa Rica.
One hundred and fifty-two blood samples of non-human primates of thirteen rescue centers in Costa Rica were analyzed to determine the presence of species of Plasmodium using thick blood smears, semi-nested multiplex polymerase chain reaction (SnM-PCR) for species differentiation, cloning and sequencing for confirmation. Using thick blood smears, two samples were determined to contain the Plasmodium malariae parasite, with SnM-PCR, a total of five (3.3%) samples were positive to P. malariae, cloning and sequencing confirmed both smear samples as P. malariae. One sample amplified a larger and conserved region of 18S rDNA for the genus Plasmodium and sequencing confirmed the results obtained microscopically and through SnM-PCR tests. Sequencing and construction of a phylogenetic tree of this sample revealed that the P. malariae/P. brasilianum parasite (GenBank KU999995) found in a howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) is identical to that recently reported in humans in Costa Rica. The SnM-PCR detected P. malariae/P. brasilianum parasite in different non-human primate species in captivity and in various regions of the southern Atlantic and Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The similarity of the sequences of parasites found in humans and a monkey suggests that monkeys may be acting as reservoirs of P.malariae/P. brasilianum, for which reason it is important, to include them in control and eradication programs.
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