Fourteen long-legged ixodid ticks (6 nymphs and 8 larvae) were collected from Bechstein’s bat (Myotis bechsteinii) in Rochefort, Belgium. All ticks were morphologically identified as Ixodes ariadnae, based on their long legs (Haller’s organ longer than maximum diameter of tarsus I), broad palps and posteriorly reverse bell-shaped scutum with wavy surface. The DNA was extracted from these ticks, followed by PCR amplification of part of their cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. All obtained sequences were 100% identical with each other, and with the COI sequence of I. ariadnae reported previously from Hungary and Germany. Taking into account that the collection site in the present study is close to the French border of Belgium, and migration of Bechstein’s bat is known between Belgium and France, it is reasonable to suppose that I. ariadnae also occurs in France. This is the first record of I. ariadnae in Western Europe, outside its formerly known geographical range (Central Europe).
Authors:Sándor Hornok, Dávid Murányi, Jenő Kontschán and Vuong Tan Tu
Cimex lectularius, the common bedbug is an important, emerging pest of both veterinary and medical importance. Here a recently discovered, genetically distinct new species of the C. lectularius group is described morphologically, as Cimex pulveratus Hornok sp. nov.
Authors:Sándor Hornok, Marina L. Meli, Enikő Gönczi and Regina Hofmann-Lehmann
Dermacentor reticulatus is a tick species of high medical and veterinary importance, emerging in several parts of Europe. Up to now most studies focusing on zoonotic rickettsiae in D. reticulatus were based on ticks collected in a limited part of the questing period, and did not take into account the potential seasonal variations in the rate of infection with tick-borne rickettsiae. The aim of the present study was to investigate the latter phenomenon, i.e. to screen D. reticulatus adults, collected monthly in two urban habitats of Budapest, for the presence of three zoonotic Rickettsia spp. Altogether 852 D. reticulatus adults were collected, which showed significantly similar seasonal activity in the two evaluated habitats. Among the 413 molecularly analysed ticks, R. helvetica-infected D. reticulatus were only collected during autumn in habitat-1, in contrast to habitat-2. The overall prevalence of R. raoultii in D. reticulatus adults was significantly higher in habitat-1 than in habitat-2. In addition, the seasonal distribution of R. raoultii-infected ticks was different between the two habitats (in habitat-2 significantly more R. raoultii-infected ticks were collected in the autumn, in comparison with winter and spring). Rickettsia slovaca was not detected in any of the molecularly analysed ticks. The results clearly indicate that a single-time or seasonally biased collection of D. reticulatus adults and their subsequent molecular analysis may not be informative on the real prevalence of rickettsiae. This is because the availability/ activity of infected ticks shows significant seasonal fluctuations, both within and between habitats. Instead, for screening D. reticulatus-borne rickettsiae, it is important to collect monthly samples and then to assess seasonal prevalence and actual habitat-associated eco-epidemiological risks.
Authors:Sándor Hornok, Nóra Takács, Krisztina Szőke and Bernd Kunz
A long-legged tick was collected from a hibernating greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Based on morphological characteristics as well as on partial COI and 16S rDNA gene sequences the tick was identified as an engorged female of Ixodes ariadnae. The greater mouseeared bat is a new host record for this tick species. Taking into account the geographical position of the collection site and the known migration distance of the greater mouse-eared bat, the present data suggest the autochthonous occurrence of I. ariadnae in Germany. This is the first record of I. ariadnae in Germany, and in any country other than Hungary, where this species has been recently discovered.
Authors:Sándor Szekeres, Alexandra Juhász, Milán Kondor, Nóra Takács, László Sugár and Sándor Hornok
Reports of Sarcocystis rileyi-like protozoa (‘rice breast disease’) from anseriform birds had been rare in Europe until the last two decades, when S. rileyi was identified in northern Europe and the UK. However, despite the economic losses resulting from S. rileyi infection, no recent accounts are available on its presence (which can be suspected) in most parts of central, western, southern and eastern Europe. Between 2014 and 2019, twelve mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were observed to have rice breast disease in Hungary, and the last one of these 12 cases allowed molecular identification of S. rileyi, as reported here. In addition, S. rileyi was molecularly identified in the faeces of one red fox (Vulpes vulpes). The hunting season for mallards in Hungary lasts from mid-August to January, which in Europe coincides with the wintering migration of anseriform birds towards the south. Based on this, as well as bird ringing data, it is reasonable to suppose that the first S. rileyi-infected mallards arrived in Hungary from the north. on the other hand, red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), which are final hosts of S. rileyi, are ubiquitous in Hungary, and our molecular finding confirms an already established autochthonous life cycle of S. rileyi in the region. Taken together, this is the first evidence for the occurrence of S. rileyi in Hungary and its region.
Authors:Zoltán Demeter, Elena Palade, Éva Balogh, Csaba Jakab, Róbert Farkas, Balázs Tánczos and Sándor Hornok
Here we report a case of canine babesiosis with unusual morphology of the causative agent. A male, seven-week-old Labrador retriever puppy, exhibiting severe anaemia and haemoglobinuria, was presented at the Clinic of Internal Medicine in February 2011. The puppy was euthanised. The most relevant pathological changes were icterus, severe splenomegaly, generalised lymphadenopathy and haemoglobin nephrosis. Samples were collected from various organs for histology within one hour post mortem. Impression smears were also prepared from the spleen after overnight storage at 4 °C. Tissue sections and smears showed the presence of multiple, coccoid intraerythrocytic bodies that measured 1–2 μm and resembled small babesiae. No large piroplasms were seen. DNA was extracted from the spleen, and a conventional PCR was performed for the amplification of a 450-bp region of the 18S rRNA gene of piroplasms. The causative agent was identified as Babesia canis canis, with 99% sequence identity to other European isolates. Sequence identity to B. gibsoni was only 91%. This is the first account to verify that the morphology of the large canine piroplasm, B. canis, can be uniformly small babesia-like post mortem or following the storage of tissue samples.
Authors:Sándor Hornok, István Hajtós, Marina Meli, Imre Farkas, Enikő Gönczi, Theres Meili and Regina Hofmann-Lehmann
In order to investigate haemotropic Mycoplasma (formerly Eperythrozoon) infection of goats, blood samples and blood-sucking lice (Linognathus stenopsis) were collected in two goat herds. DNA was extracted from 20 blood samples and from 49 lice allocated to six pools according to host individuals. Haemoplasma infection was detected in four goats by real-time PCR. From the sample with the highest bacterial load the simultaneous presence of M. ovis and ‘Candidatus M. haemoovis’ was demonstrated by cloning and sequencing. Louse pools were haemoplasma negative, including those from bacteraemic animals. However, not only were Anaplasma inclusion bodies seen in blood smears from goats, but relevant PCR-positivity was also detected among lice. This is the first report of a molecular investigation on caprine haemoplasmas, including analysis of their bloodsucking lice. In summary, goats are susceptible to both molecularly characterised ovine haemoplasmas. On the other hand, goat sucking lice (L. stenopsis) do not appear to be potential vectors of these agents.
Authors:Sándor Hornok, Maria Mulvihill, Krisztina Szőke, Enikő Gönczi, Kinga M. Sulyok, Miklós Gyuranecz and Regina Hofmann-Lehmann
Man-made barriers are well known for their effects on ecosystems. Habitat fragmentation, for instance, is a recognised consequence of modern-day infrastructure. The aim of the present study was to investigate the diversity and abundance of tick species, as well as the risks of acquiring tick-borne infections in habitats adjacent to a freeway. Therefore, ixodid ticks were collected from the vegetation at two-week intervals (in the main tick season, from March to June) in eight habitats of different types (forest, grove, grassland) along both sides of a freeway. Ixodes ricinus females were molecularly screened for three species of tick-borne bacteria. In the study period, 887 ixodid ticks were collected. These included 704 I. ricinus (79.4%), 51 Dermacentor reticulatus (5.7%), 78 D. marginatus (8.8%), 35 Haemaphysalis inermis (3.9%) and 19 H. concinna (2.1%). There was no significant difference in the abundance of tick species between similar habitats separated by the freeway, except for the absence of Dermacentor spp. on one side. In I. ricinus females, the overall prevalence of Anaplasma phagocytophilum was low, and (in part due to this low rate) did not show significant difference between the two sides of the freeway. Rickettsia helvetica had significantly different overall prevalence between two distant habitats along the same side of the freeway (12.3% vs. 31.4%), but not between habitats on the opposite sides. Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. showed significantly different overall prevalence between habitats both on the same and on the opposite sides of the freeway (8.6–35.9%), and the difference was higher if relevant habitats were also separated by the freeway. Importantly, the prevalence rate of the Lyme disease agent was highest in a forested resting area of the freeway, and was significantly inversely proportional to the prevalence of A. phagocytophilum (taking into account all evaluated habitats), apparently related to deer population density. Prevalence rates of these bacteria also differed significantly on single sampling occasions between: (1) closely situated habitats of different types; (2) distant and either similar or different habitat types; and (3) habitats on the opposite sides of the freeway. In conclusion, the findings of the present study show that a fenced freeway may contribute to differences in tick species diversity and tick-borne pathogen prevalence along its two sides, and this effect is most likely a consequence of its barrier role preventing deer movements.
Authors:Sándor Hornok, Marina Meli, Enikő Gönczi, Éva Ignits, Barbara Willi, Hans Lutz and Regina Hofmann-Lehmann
Although haemobartonellosis was previously reported in Hungary, until now the diagnosis (based on morphological identification in blood smears) has only been suggestive of the occurrence of the large species, recently reclassified as
. However, in July 2007 a cat was presented at a small animal clinic with severe haemolytic anaemia, icterus and haemoglobinuria. While biochemical parameters were within the reference range, the cat had leukocytosis and rapidly decreasing haematocrit values, and eventually died 7 days after the sudden onset of aggravating clinical signs. From blood samples of the cat ‘
Mycoplasma haemominutum’ was identified by molecular methods, according to its 100% 16S rRNA gene sequence homology with two Swiss isolates and one isolate from the UK. The rapid termination of the disease and the high pathogenicity of the causative agent observed in this case are unusual, taking into account that PCR results were negative for immunosuppressive viruses. This is the first record of this feline haemoplasma species in Hungary.
Authors:Sándor Hornok, Renate Edelhofer, Anja Joachim, Róbert Farkas, Krisztián Berta, Attila Répási and Béla Lakatos
Blood samples were collected from 330 cats in Hungary in order to evaluate their seroconversion to
using the indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT). The overall prevalence of toxoplasmosis was 47.6%, the prevalence being 22.4% among urban, 50% among suburban and 61.3% among rural animals. Significantly more cats had high IFAT titres (1:640 to 1:5120) in the countryside. Female cats were more frequently infected with
than males (53.3% vs. 39.3%), and seropositivity increased with the age of animals. The prevalence (0.6%) and titre (1:40) of antibodies to
was low. Sixty-two cats were also screened for seroconversion to feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) virus. Higher titres to
were more frequently detected among FIP-positive cats, but this difference was non-significant due to the small number of cats with concurrent infection.