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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Babesia vesperuginis is the only piroplasm known to infect bats. Unlike most members of the genus Babesia, it is probably transmitted by a soft tick species (i.e. Argas vespertilionis). Recently, two studies have been conducted to clarify the phylogenetic status of this species, and both agreed on placing it into a basal position among Babesia sensu stricto (s.s.). However, several important groups of piroplasms were not included in the already reported phylogenetic trees of B. vesperuginis isolates. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to amplify an approx. 950-bp fragment of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) gene of B. vesperuginis from A. vespertilionis specimens, and to compare its sequences with those from other piroplasmid groups in a broader phylogenetic context. Sequence comparisons focusing on either 18S rRNA or cox1 genes, as well as phylogenetic analyses involving separate and concatenated 18S rRNA and cox1 sequences indicate that B. vesperuginis is more closely related to the phylogenetic group of Theileriidae than to Babesia s.s. In particular, B. vesperuginis clustered closest to Cytauxzoon felis and the ‘prototheilerid’ B. conradae. The results of this study highlight that B. vesperuginis is a unique and taxonomically important species, which should be included in future studies aimed at resolving the comprehensive phylogeny of Piroplasmida.

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Authors: Sándor Hornok, Attila D. Sándor, Gábor FÖldvári, Angela M. IonicĂ, Cornelia Silaghi, Nóra Takács, Anna-margarita SchÖtta and Michiel Wijnveld

Abstract

Recently, the occurrence of Ixodes (Pholeoixodes) kaiseri has been reported for the first time in several European countries, but data on the molecular analysis of this hard tick species are still lacking. Therefore, in this study DNA extracts of 28 I. kaiseri (collected from dogs and red foxes in Germany, Hungary and Romania) were screened with reverse line blot hybridisation (RLB), PCR and sequencing for the presence of 43 tick-borne pathogens or other members of their families from the categories of Anaplasmataceae, piroplasms, rickettsiae and borreliae. Rickettsia helvetica DNA was detected in one I. kaiseri female (from a red fox, Romania), for the first time in this tick species. Six ticks (from red foxes, Romania) contained the DNA of Babesia vulpes, also for the first time in the case of I. kaiseri. Molecular evidence of R. helvetica and B. vulpes in engorged I. kaiseri does not prove that this tick species is a vector of the above two pathogens, because they might have been taken up by the ticks from the blood of foxes. In addition, one I. kaiseri female (from a dog, Hungary) harboured Babesia sp. badger type-B, identified for the first time in Hungary and Central Europe (i.e. it has been reported previously from Western Europe and China). The latter finding can be explained by either the susceptibility of dogs to Babesia sp. badger type-B, or by transstadial survival of this piroplasm in I. kaiseri.

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Authors: Sándor Hornok, Attila D. Sándor, Gábor FÖldvári, Angela M. IonicĂ, Cornelia Silaghi, Nóra Takács, Anna-margarita SchÖtta and Michiel Wijnveld

Abstract

Recently, the occurrence of Ixodes (Pholeoixodes) kaiseri has been reported for the first time in several European countries, but data on the molecular analysis of this hard tick species are still lacking. Therefore, in this study DNA extracts of 28 I. kaiseri (collected from dogs and red foxes in Germany, Hungary and Romania) were screened with reverse line blot hybridisation (RLB), PCR and sequencing for the presence of 43 tick-borne pathogens or other members of their families from the categories of Anaplasmataceae, piroplasms, rickettsiae and borreliae. Rickettsia helvetica DNA was detected in one I. kaiseri female (from a red fox, Romania), for the first time in this tick species. Six ticks (from red foxes, Romania) contained the DNA of Babesia vulpes, also for the first time in the case of I. kaiseri. Molecular evidence of R. helvetica and B. vulpes in engorged I. kaiseri does not prove that this tick species is a vector of the above two pathogens, because they might have been taken up by the ticks from the blood of foxes. In addition, one I. kaiseri female (from a dog, Hungary) harboured Babesia sp. badger type-B, identified for the first time in Hungary and Central Europe (i.e. it has been reported previously from Western Europe and China). The latter finding can be explained by either the susceptibility of dogs to Babesia sp. badger type-B, or by transstadial survival of this piroplasm in I. kaiseri.

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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.

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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.

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