[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is the most important tick-transmitted arbovirus causing human disease in Europe, but information on its endemic occurrence varies between countries because of differences in surveillance systems. Objective data are necessary to ascertain the disease risk for vaccination recommendations and other public health interventions. In two independent, separately planned projects, we used real-time RT-PCR to detect TBE virus in questing ticks. In Poland, 32 sampling sites were selected in 10 administrative districts located in regions where sporadic TBE cases were reported. In Germany, 18 sampling sites were selected in two districts located in a region with high TBE incidence. Altogether, >16 000 ticks were tested by real-time RT-PCR, with no sample testing positive for TBEV. A systematic search for published studies on TBEV prevalence in ticks in Poland and Germany also suggested that testing large numbers of collected ticks could not consistently assure virus detection in known endemic foci. Although assignment of results to administrative regions is essential for TBE risk mapping, this was possible in only 10 (investigating 22 417 ticks) of 15 published studies (>50 000 ticks) identified. We conclude that the collection and screening of ticks by real-time RT-PCR cannot be recommended for assessment of human TBE risk. Alternative methods of environmental TBEV monitoring should be considered, such as serological monitoring of rodents or other wildlife.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Zoonoses and Public Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) causes one of the most important flavivirus infections of the central nervous system, affecting humans in Europe and Asia. It is mainly transmitted by the bite of an infected tick and circulates among them and their vertebrate hosts. Until now, TBE risk analysis in Germany has been based on the incidence of human cases. Because of an increasing vaccination rate, this approach might be misleading, especially in regions of low virus circulation.
To test the suitability of rodents as a surrogate marker for virus spread, laboratory-bred Microtus arvalis voles were experimentally infected with TBEV and analyzed over a period of 100 days by real-time (RT)-quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Further, the prevalence of TBEV in rodents trapped in Brandenburg, a rural federal state in northeastern Germany with autochthonous TBE cases, was determined and compared with that in rodents from German TBE risk areas as well as TBE nonrisk areas.
In experimentally infected M. arvalis voles, TBEV was detectable in different organs for at least 3 months and in blood for 1 month. Ten percent of all rodents investigated were positive for TBEV. However, in TBE risk areas, the infection rate was higher compared with that of areas with only single human cases or of nonrisk areas. TBEV was detected in six rodent species: Apodemus agrarius, Apodemus flavicollis, Apodemus sylvaticus, Microtus agrestis, Microtus arvalis, and Myodes glareolus. M. glareolus showed a high infection rate in all areas investigated.
The infection experiments proved that TBEV can be reliably detected in infected M. arvalis voles. These voles developed a persistent TBE infection without clinical symptoms. Further, the study showed that rodents, especially M. glareolus, are promising sentinels particularly in areas of low TBEV circulation.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Vector borne and zoonotic diseases (Larchmont, N.Y.)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In order to identify variables associated with the presence of the tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus, we conducted a serological survey of roe deer [Capreolus capreolus (Artiodactyla: Cervidae, Linnaeus 1758)] in three forest districts of southern Hesse, Germany. Overall, 24 out of 105 (22.9%) of the sera were positive (≥1 : 10 plaque reduction neutralization test). Using a logistic regression approach, we found that unexplained spatial variation, indexed roe deer density (positive correlation), hind foot length of the tested roe deer (positive correlation) and infestation with female Ixodes spp. ticks (negative correlation) predicted the probability of TBE virus antibody presence in individual roe deer sera. Spring temperature increase and host sex were rejected as explanatory variables. We found considerable differences in TBE virus antibody seroprevalence (50.0% vs. 17.6%) between two forest districts located in the same county; this finding questions the current county-resolution of public health recordings. Given the high seroprevalence of roe deer and the considerable explanatory power of our model, our approach appears suitable to delineate science-based risk maps at a smaller spatial scale and to abandon the current human incidence per county criterion. Importantly, using roe deer as sentinels would eliminate the inherent bias of risk maps based on human incidence (varying levels of immunization and exposure of humans).
Full-text · Article · May 2011 · Medical and Veterinary Entomology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Macroparasites feeding on wildlife hosts follow skewed distributions for which basic statistical approaches are of limited use. To predict Ixodes spp. tick burden on roe deer, we applied Generalized Additive Models for Location, Scale and Shape (GAMLSS) which allow incorporating a variable dispersion. We analysed tick burden of 78 roe deer, sampled in a forest region of Germany over a period of 20 months. Assuming a negative binomial error distribution and controlling for ambient temperature, we analysed whether host sex and body mass affected individual tick burdens. Models for larval and nymphal tick burden included host sex, with male hosts being more heavily infested than female ones. However, the influence of host sex on immature tick burden was associated with wide standard errors (nymphs) or the factor was marginally significant (larvae). Adult tick burden was positively correlated with host body mass. Thus, controlled for host body mass and ambient temperature, there is weak support for sex-biased parasitism in this system. Compared with models which assume linear relationships, GAMLSS provided a better fit. Adding a variable dispersion term improved only one of the four models. Yet, the potential of modelling dispersion as a function of variables appears promising for larger datasets.
No preview · Article · Mar 2011 · Medical and Veterinary Entomology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The spatio-temporal attachment site patterns of ticks feeding on their hosts can be of significance if co-feeding transmission (i.e. from tick to tick without a systemic infection of the host) of pathogens affects the persistence of a given disease. Using tick infestation data on roe deer, we analysed preferred attachment sites and niche width of Ixodes ticks (larvae, nymphs, males, females) and investigated the degree of inter- and intrastadial aggregation. The different development stages showed rather consistent attachment site patterns and relative narrow feeding site niches. Larvae were mostly found on the head and on the front legs of roe deer, nymphs reached highest densities on the head and highest adult densities were found on the neck of roe deer. The tick stages feeding (larvae, nymphs, females) on roe deer showed high degrees of intrastadial spatial aggregation, whereas males did not. Male ticks showed large feeding site overlap with female ticks. Feeding site overlap between larval-female and larval-nymphal ticks did occur especially during the months May-August on the head and front legs of roe deer and might allow pathogen transmission via co-feeding. Tick density, niche width and niche overlap on roe deer are mainly affected by seasonality, reflecting seasonal activity and abundance patterns of ticks. Since different tick development stages occur spatially and temporally clustered on roe deer, transmission experiments of tick-borne pathogens are urgently needed.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Experimental and Applied Acarology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Identifying factors affecting individual vector burdens is essential for understanding infectious disease systems. Drawing upon data of a rodent monitoring programme conducted in nine different forest patches in southern Hesse, Germany, we developed models which predict tick (Ixodes spp. and Dermacentor spp.) burdens on two rodent species Apodemus flavicollis and Myodes glareolus. Models for the two rodent species were broadly similar but differed in some aspects. Patterns of Ixodes spp. burdens were influenced by extrinsic factors such as season, unexplained spatial variation (both species), relative humidity and vegetation cover (A. flavicollis). We found support for the 'body mass' (tick burdens increase with body mass/age) and for the 'dilution' hypothesis (tick burdens decline with increasing rodent densities) and little support for the 'sex-bias' hypothesis (both species). Surprisingly, roe deer densities were not correlated with larvae counts on rodents. Factors influencing the mean burden did not significantly explain the observed dispersion of tick counts. Co-feeding aggregations, which are essential for tick-borne disease transmission, were mainly found in A. flavicollis of high body mass trapped in areas with fast increase in spring temperatures. Locally, Dermacentor spp. appears to be an important parasite on A. flavicollis and M. glareolus. Dermacentor spp. was rather confined to areas with higher average temperatures during the vegetation period. Nymphs of Dermacentor spp. mainly fed on M. glareolus and were seldom found on A. flavicollis. Whereas Ixodes spp. is the dominant tick genus in woodlands of our study area, the distribution and epidemiological role of Dermacentor spp. should be monitored closely.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2010 · Parasitology Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus can cause severe symptoms in humans. The incidence of this vector-borne pathogen in humans is characterised by spatial and temporal heterogeneity. To explain the variation in reported human TBE cases per county in southern Germany, we designed a time-lagged, spatially-explicit model that incorporates ecological, environmental, and climatic factors.
We fitted a logistic regression model to the annual counts of reported human TBE cases in each of 140 counties over an eight year period. The model controlled for spatial autocorrelation and unexplained temporal variation. The occurrence of human TBE was found to be positively correlated with the proportions of broad-leafed, mixed and coniferous forest cover. An index of forest fragmentation was negatively correlated with TBE incidence, suggesting that infection risk is higher in fragmented landscapes. The results contradict previous evidence regarding the relevance of a specific spring-time temperature regime for TBE epidemiology. Hunting bag data of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in the previous year was positively correlated with human TBE incidence, and hunting bag density of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) in the previous year were negatively correlated with human TBE incidence.
Our approach suggests that a combination of landscape and climatic variables as well as host-species dynamics influence TBE infection risk in humans. The model was unable to explain some of the temporal variation, specifically the high counts in 2005 and 2006. Factors such as the exposure of humans to infected ticks and forest rodent population dynamics, for which we have no data, are likely to be explanatory factors. Such information is required to identify the determinants of TBE more reliably. Having records of TBE infection sites at a finer scale would also be necessary.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2010 · International Journal of Health Geographics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In our study we assessed the tick burden on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L.) in relation to age, physical condition, sex, deer density and season. The main objective was to find predictive parameters for tick burden. In September 2007, May, July, and September 2008, and in May and July 2009 we collected ticks on 142 culled roe deer from nine forest departments in Southern Hesse, Germany. To correlate tick burden and deer density we estimated deer density using line transect sampling that accounts for different detectability in March 2008 and 2009, respectively. We collected more than 8,600 ticks from roe deer heads and necks, 92.6% of which were Ixodes spp., 7.4% Dermacentor spp. Among Ixodes, 3.3% were larvae, 50.5% nymphs, 34.8% females and 11.4% males, with significant seasonal deviation. Total tick infestation was high, with considerable individual variation (from 0 to 270 ticks/deer). Adult tick burden was positively correlated with roe deer body indices (body mass, age, hind foot length). Significantly more nymphs were found on deer from forest departments with high roe deer density indices, indicating a positive correlation with deer abundance. Overall, tick burden was highly variable. Seasonality and large scale spatial characteristics appeared to be the most important factors affecting tick burden on roe deer.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2010 · Experimental and Applied Acarology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite the importance of roe deer as a host for Ixodes ticks in central Europe, estimates of total tick burden on roe deer are not available to date. We aimed at providing (1) estimates of life stage and sex specific (larvae, nymphs, males and females, hereafter referred to as tick life stages) total Ixodes burden and (2) equations which can be used to predict the total life stage burden by counting the life stage on a selected body area. Within a period of 1(1/2) years, we conducted whole body counts of ticks from 80 hunter-killed roe deer originating from a beech dominated forest area in central Germany. Averaged over the entire study period (winter 2007-summer 2009), the mean tick burden per roe deer was 64.5 (SE +/- 10.6). Nymphs were the most numerous tick life stage per roe deer (23.9 +/- 3.2), followed by females (21.4 +/- 3.5), larvae (10.8 +/- 4.2) and males (8.4 +/- 1.5). The individual tick burden was highly aggregated (k = 0.46); levels of aggregation were highest in larvae (k = 0.08), followed by males (k = 0.40), females (k = 0.49) and nymphs (k = 0.71). To predict total life stage specific burdens based on counts on selected body parts, we provide linear equations. For estimating larvae abundance on the entire roe deer, counts can be restricted to the front legs. Tick counts restricted to the head are sufficient to estimate total nymph burden and counts on the neck are appropriate for estimating adult ticks (females and males). In order to estimate the combined tick burden, tick counts on the head can be used for extrapolation. The presented linear models are highly significant and explain 84.1, 77.3, 90.5, 91.3, and 65.3% (adjusted R (2)) of the observed variance, respectively. Thus, these models offer a robust basis for rapid tick abundance assessment. This can be useful for studies aiming at estimating effects of abiotic and biotic factors on tick abundance, modelling tick population dynamics, modelling tick-borne pathogen transmission dynamics or assessing the efficacy of acaricides.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2010 · Experimental and Applied Acarology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To derive a model which allows estimating eaten prey masses from lynxLynx lynx Linnaeus, 1758 scats, we fed 3 roe deerCapreolus capreolus, 2 wild boarsSus scrofa, 1 fallow deerDama dama, 1 mouflonOvis ammon musimon, 1 European hareLepus europaeus and 1 daily diet of miceMus musculus to two adult lynx. The percentage of prey use decreased with an increase in the offered body mass of the prey individual.
Conversion factors from dry matter scat mass to fresh matter mass of eaten prey (y) increased linearly as the eaten mass of the prey individual (x) rose:y = 15.06 + 1.330x,R
2 = 0.643,F
1,7 = 12.6,p < 0.01. For estimating eaten prey masses from lynx scats we recommend to use (1) this equation as well as (2) prey type-specific
conversion factors and (3) prey type-specific quotients of the eaten prey mass per scat.
Key wordsCarnivore-deer-faeces-hare-rodent-ungulate-wild boar
No preview · Article · Sep 2007 · Acta theriologica
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We studied seasonal use of space by 38 radio-tracked European hares in an arable region in central Germany over 5years. Mean distance between successive daytime and nighttime fixes of a hare amounted to 226m, and an average distance of 172m was recorded for successive daytime fixes. The hares shifted the centres of their home ranges from one 2-month period to the next by an average distance of 131m and over a time span of 11.2months by 216m. The size of their 2-month home ranges (MCP 95) averaged 21ha; the variation between individuals was high. Night ranges were larger than day ranges. Mean size of seasonal home ranges—based on daytime and nighttime fixes—remained largely constant throughout the year. Home-range size increased as the day-to-night distance increased, as the number of used habitat elements increased and as frequency of use of inner field parts during the daytime increased. Home-range size was inversely related to population density. On average, 32% of the area of the home range of a hare overlapped with the home range of a neighbouring conspecific. When related to the population density of adult hares in spring, the home range of a single hare was estimated to overlap with 13–21 home ranges of adults as well as an indefinite number of juveniles. The large intraseasonal variation in locomotion and home-range characteristics is interpreted in relationship to the social structure of European hares.
No preview · Article · Jan 2004 · European Journal of Wildlife Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among the prey of wolfCanis lupus Linnaeus, 1758, in many European regions, roe deerCapreolus capreolus, red deer Cervuselaphus and wild boarSus scrofa are of primary significance. Up to now, these species were not represented in models which allow an estimation of the consumed
biomass on the basis of wolf scats. To develop such formulae for roe deer, red deer and wild boar, we fed these species to
5 captive adult wolves of European origin. In 10 feeding trials, the wolves were fed 10 prey, whose body mass ranged from
15.3 to 118.5 kg. We related the body mass of the prey in accordance with Weaver (1993) to one collectable scat (Model l:y=0.00554+0.00457x) and, as it is difficult to define one unit scat, we alternatively related it to one meter length of scats (Model 2:y=0.141+0.0487x). The Model 1 equation differed from both of Weaver’s (1993) regressions, which he had calculated on the basis of his own
feeding trials and on the basis of the summarised data of Floydet al. (1978), Traves (1983) and Weaver (1993). Applying an equation gained through the European ungulates resulted in lower estimates
of prey mass. Model 1 and Model 2 estimates were comparable in size.
-scat analysis-roe deer-red deer-wild boar-biomass
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Beschrieben werden zwei Flle von Tetrazyklinmarken im Zahnschmelz der permanenten Eckzhne frei lebender Wildschwein-Keiler. Als wahrscheinliche Ursache wird die Aufnahme Tetrazyklin-haltiger Impfkder zur oralen Immunisierung gegen Tollwut beziehungsweise Schweinepest diskutiert.Described are tetracycline marks in the enamel of the permanent canines of two free-ranging male wild boars. These marks were presumably caused by uptake of tetracycline containing vaccine baits for oral immunization against rabies and swine fever, respectively.On dcrit deux cas de marquage la Ttracycline au niveau de l'mail dentaire des canines dfinitives de sangliers mles vivant en parcours libre. La discussion porte sur la cause probable de ce marquage, savoir l'ingestion d'appts contenant de la Ttracycline et utiliss respectivement contre la Rage et la Peste porcine.
Full-text · Article · May 2002 · European Journal of Wildlife Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Described are tetracycline marks in the enamel of the permanent canines of two free-ranging male wild boars. These marks were presumably caused by uptake of tetracycline containing vaccine baits for oral immunization against rabies and swine fever, respectively.