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Natural toxoplasma gondii infections in European brown hares and mountain hares in Finland: proportional mortality rate, antibody prevalence, and genetic characterization.

Authors
  • Jokelainen, Pikka1
  • Isomursu, Marja
  • Näreaho, Anu
  • Oksanen, Antti
  • 1 Department of Veterinary Biosciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, PO Box 66, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. [email protected] , (Finland)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of wildlife diseases
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2011
Volume
47
Issue
1
Pages
154–163
Identifiers
PMID: 21270004
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

In material examined postmortem in Finland from May 2006 to April 2009, acute generalized toxoplasmosis was the immunohistochemically confirmed cause of death in 14 (8.1%) of 173 European brown hares (Lepus europaeus) and four (2.7%) of 148 mountain hares (Lepus timidus). Sera from 116 of the European brown hares and 99 of the mountain hares were screened with a commercial direct agglutination test for Toxoplasma gondii-specific IgG antibodies at a dilution of 1:40. All sera from cases of fatal toxoplasmosis had high titers of antibodies reactive to T. gondii. In contrast, none of 107 European brown hares and four (4%) of 96 mountain hares that died of other causes were antibody-positive. The proportional mortality rates and the T. gondii antibody prevalences among noncases differed significantly between the two host species (P<0.05). Direct genetic characterization of the causative agent was performed on DNA extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue of the hares with fatal toxoplasmosis. Based on the results with six microsatellite markers (B18, TUB2, TgM-A, W35, B17, and M33; all six in 15 cases and four in three cases), all the cases were caused by T. gondii genotype II; the size of the PCR product at the seventh marker (M48) varied (213-229 base pairs). The presence of T. gondii genotype II, which is endemic in Europe, is now confirmed in Finnish wildlife: Natural infections with T. gondii parasites belonging to this widespread genotype caused fatal generalized toxoplasmosis in the two species of wild hares.

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