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Serological and molecular investigation of selected parasitic pathogens in European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) in Greece: inferring the ecological niche of Toxoplasma gondii and Leishmania infantum in hares.

Tsokana, Constantina N; Sokos, Christos; Giannakopoulos, Alexios; Birtsas, Periklis; Athanasiou, Labrini V; Valiakos, George; Sofia, Marina; Chatzopoulos, Dimitrios C; Kantere, Maria; Spyrou, Vassiliki; Burriel, Angeliki Rodi; Billinis, Charalambos.
Parasitol Res; 118(9): 2715-2721, 2019 Sep.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31286264
The occurrence of infection or exposure to Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum, and Leishmania infantum was investigated in European brown hares (Lepus europaeus, EBH) hunter-harvested over two consecutive hunting seasons in northern and central Greece. Geographical information system was used along with the ecological niche model to define the geographical distribution of seropositive hares relative to environmental parameters and to identify high-risk areas for hare exposure. Molecular analysis showed that 3.8% and 9.6% of the examined hares were infected with N. caninum and L. infantum, respectively, while, 5.7%, 0.95%, and 12.4% of the hares tested positive for the presence of antibodies against T. gondii, N. caninum, and L. infantum respectively. None of the examined hares was polymerase chain reaction-positive for T. gondii. Mixed exposure against both T. gondii and L. infantum was found in 2.9% of the hares examined. Rainfall indices and land uses significantly influenced the exposure of hares to T. gondii and L. infantum. This is the first molecular and serological survey of protozoan pathogens in EBH in Greece. Furthermore, we report the environmental parameters related to hare seropositivity and present a risk map for hare exposure to T. gondii and L. infantum in northern and central Greece. The ecological niches of T. gondii and L. infantum in the hares presented herein could be applied to other regions with similar environmental and climatic conditions.
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