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Concurrent infections with vector-borne pathogens associated with fatal hemolytic anemia in a cattle herd in Switzerland.


Hofmann-Lehmann, R; Meli, M L; Dreher, U M; Gönczi, E; Deplazes, P; Braun, U; Engels, M; Schüpbach, J; Jörger, K; Thoma, R; Griot, C; Stärk, K D C; Willi, B; Schmidt, J; Kocan, K M; Lutz, H (2004). Concurrent infections with vector-borne pathogens associated with fatal hemolytic anemia in a cattle herd in Switzerland. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 42(8):3775-3780.

Abstract

Bovine anaplasmosis is a vector-borne disease that results in substantial economic losses in other parts of the world but so far not in northern Europe. In August 2002, a fatal disease outbreak was reported in a large dairy herd in the Swiss canton of Grisons. Diseased animals experienced fever, anorexia, agalactia, and depression. Anemia, ectoparasite infestation, and, occasionally, hemoglobinuria were observed. To determine the roles of vector-borne pathogens and to characterize the disease, blood samples were collected from all 286 animals: 50% of the cows were anemic. Upon microscopic examination of red blood cells, Anaplasma marginale inclusion bodies were found in 47% of the cows. The infection was confirmed serologically and by molecular methods. Interestingly, we also found evidence of infections with Anaplasma phagocytophilum, large Babesia and Theileria spp., and Mycoplasma wenyonii. The last two species had not previously been described in Switzerland. Anemia was significantly associated with the presence of the infectious agents detected, with the exception of A. phagocytophilum. Remarkably, concurrent infections with up to five infectious vector-borne agents were detected in 90% of the ill animals tested by PCR. We concluded that A. marginale was the major cause of the hemolytic anemia, while coinfections with other agents exacerbated the disease. This was the first severe disease outbreak associated with concurrent infections with vector-borne pathogens in alpine Switzerland; it was presumably curtailed by culling of the entire herd. It remains to be seen whether similar disease outbreaks will have to be anticipated in northern Europe in the future.

Bovine anaplasmosis is a vector-borne disease that results in substantial economic losses in other parts of the world but so far not in northern Europe. In August 2002, a fatal disease outbreak was reported in a large dairy herd in the Swiss canton of Grisons. Diseased animals experienced fever, anorexia, agalactia, and depression. Anemia, ectoparasite infestation, and, occasionally, hemoglobinuria were observed. To determine the roles of vector-borne pathogens and to characterize the disease, blood samples were collected from all 286 animals: 50% of the cows were anemic. Upon microscopic examination of red blood cells, Anaplasma marginale inclusion bodies were found in 47% of the cows. The infection was confirmed serologically and by molecular methods. Interestingly, we also found evidence of infections with Anaplasma phagocytophilum, large Babesia and Theileria spp., and Mycoplasma wenyonii. The last two species had not previously been described in Switzerland. Anemia was significantly associated with the presence of the infectious agents detected, with the exception of A. phagocytophilum. Remarkably, concurrent infections with up to five infectious vector-borne agents were detected in 90% of the ill animals tested by PCR. We concluded that A. marginale was the major cause of the hemolytic anemia, while coinfections with other agents exacerbated the disease. This was the first severe disease outbreak associated with concurrent infections with vector-borne pathogens in alpine Switzerland; it was presumably curtailed by culling of the entire herd. It remains to be seen whether similar disease outbreaks will have to be anticipated in northern Europe in the future.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Medical Virology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:1 August 2004
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:28
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:22
Publisher:American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
ISSN:0095-1137
Publisher DOI:10.1128/JCM.42.8.3775-3780.2004
PubMed ID:15297529
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-2168

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