2014 - 2014
Disease awareness in the management of wildlife species; the tularemia example
The aim of this study is to investigate if red fox, wild boar and raccoon dog may serve as good biological indicators for the presence and/or spread of tularemia in Sweden. Studies from Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany have found antibodies against Francisella tularensis in all three species, and also the bacterium itself in mandibular lymph nodes in foxes.
Approximately 600 blood samples, 300 tonsils and 300 submandibular lymph nodes will be investigated. The blood will be screened for antibodies using a slide agglutination test followed by a confirmatory test for those who tested positive. For cases with positive serology, lymph nodes will be examined for the presence of F.tularensis using real-time PCR, histopathology and immunohistochemistry.
The results will gain knowledge about the seroprevalence and detection rate of the bacteria in red fox, wild boar and raccoon dog in the investigated areas. These are species with low sensitivity to develop clinical disease, and since they in their normal diet eat species with high disease sensitivity (hares, small rodents) they are good biological indicators of tularemia. Investigation of lymph nodes for detection of bacteria will give information on the propensity for red fox, wild boar and raccoon dog to serve as reservoirs and transmitters of F.tularensis.
The goal of this study is that the serological screening method will be used in future active surveillande. With early indications of enhancement in endemic areas or spread of tularemia to new areas it is possible to take precautions to minimize the effet of the disease. By informing people, both those with increased risk to be infected and those in the medical community, disease can be prevented and detected in an earlier stage. Hunters and hunters associations can ben informed, which leaves opportunities to minimize the effect the disease might have on the population of more sensitive wildlife species, e.g. hares, through adjustment of hunting.