Publications by authors named "Smaragda Sotiraki"

51 Publications

Constraints of using historical data for modelling the spatial distribution of helminth parasites in ruminants.

Parasite 2021 27;28:46. Epub 2021 May 27.

Department of Research and Development, Avia-GIS NV, 2980 Zoersel, Belgium.

Dicrocoelium dendriticum is a trematode that infects ruminant livestock and requires two different intermediate hosts to complete its lifecycle. Modelling the spatial distribution of this parasite can help to improve its management in higher risk regions. The aim of this research was to assess the constraints of using historical data sets when modelling the spatial distribution of helminth parasites in ruminants. A parasitological data set provided by CREMOPAR (Napoli, Italy) and covering most of Italy was used in this paper. A baseline model (Random Forest, VECMAP) using the entire data set was first used to determine the minimal number of data points needed to build a stable model. Then, annual distribution models were computed and compared with the baseline model. The best prediction rate and statistical output were obtained for 2012 and the worst for 2016, even though the sample size of the former was significantly smaller than the latter. We discuss how this may be explained by the fact that in 2012, the samples were more evenly geographically distributed, whilst in 2016 most of the data were strongly clustered. It is concluded that the spatial distribution of the input data appears to be more important than the actual sample size when computing species distribution models. This is often a major issue when using historical data to develop spatial models. Such data sets often include sampling biases and large geographical gaps. If this bias is not corrected, the spatial distribution model outputs may display the sampling effort rather than the real species distribution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/parasite/2021042DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8162060PMC
June 2021

Essential oil of Mentha pulegium induces anthelmintic effects and reduces parasite-associated oxidative stress in rodent model.

Exp Parasitol 2021 Jun 1;225:108105. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

Laboratory of Parasitology, University of Manouba, National School of Veterinary Medicine of Sidi Thabet, 2020, Sidi Thabet, Tunisia.

Following the previous findings reported by the present authors on the anthelmintic effect of hydro-ethanolic extract of Mentha pulegium, the volatile constituents of M. pulegium are now assessed in the present study by exploring its anthelmintic and its antioxidant proprieties using in vitro and in vivo assays. Egg hatch assay (EHA) and adult worm's motility assays (AWMA) were used to assess the in vitro activity against Haemonchus. contortus. The in vivo anthelmintic potential was evaluated in mice infected with Heligmosomoides polygyrus using faecal egg count reduction (FECR) and total worm count reduction (TWCR). M. pulegium EO demonstrated 100% inhibition in the EHA at 200 μg/mL (IC50 = 56.36 μg/mL). In the AWM assay, EO achieved total worms paralysis 6 h after treatment exposure. This nematicidal effect was associated to morphological damages observed in the cuticular's worm using environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM). At 400 mg/kg, M. pulegium oil showed 75.66% of FECR and 80.23% of TWCR. The antioxidant potential of this plant was also monitored by several in vitro assays: total antioxidant capacity was 205.22 mg GAE/g DW, DPPH quenching effect was IC50 = 140 μg/mL, ABTS activity IC50 = 155 μg/mL and FRAP effect of 660 μg/mL. Regarding the in vivo assay, M. pulegium EO demonstrated a protective effect against oxidative stress by increasing the activity of the endogenous antioxidants (SOD, CAT and GPx) during H. polygyrus infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exppara.2021.108105DOI Listing
June 2021

Efficacy of a novel topical combination of esafoxolaner, eprinomectin and praziquantel against ear mite (Otodectes cynotis) infestations in cats.

Parasite 2021 2;28:26. Epub 2021 Apr 2.

Boehringer-Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH, Kathrinenhof Research Center, Walchenseestr. 8-12, 83101 Rohrdorf, Germany.

Esafoxolaner, a purified enantiomer of afoxolaner with insecticidal and acaricidal properties, is combined with eprinomectin and praziquantel, nematodicidal and cestodicidal compounds, in NexGard Combo, a novel topical endectoparasiticide formulation for cats. The efficacy of this formulation was assessed against Otodectes cynotis in two laboratory studies conducted in South Africa and in the USA with local isolates, and in one field trial conducted in Europe. In each study, cats were randomly allocated to a placebo-treated control group and a novel formulation-treated group. In the laboratory studies, cats were treated at the minimum recommended dose; in the field trial, cats were treated at label dose. All included cats were diagnosed positive for O. cynotis prior to treatment by otoscopy. The main variable of efficacy was a comparison of the number of live O. cynotis collected in both ear canals of all cats in the treated and control groups, one month after treatment. Efficacy of the novel topical formulation exceeded 97% in the three studies. These studies demonstrated the high effectiveness of NexGard Combo in cats for the treatment of O. cynotis infestations. No health abnormalities were attributed to the treatment in any of the studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/parasite/2021022DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8019571PMC
April 2021

Surveillance of foodborne parasitic diseases in Europe in a One Health approach.

Parasite Epidemiol Control 2021 May 3;13:e00205. Epub 2021 Feb 3.

Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Adamstuen Campus, Ullevålsveien 72, Oslo 0454, Norway.

In 2012, WHO/FAO ranked 24 foodborne parasites (FBP) using multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) to provide risk assessors with a basis for prioritising control of highly ranked FBP on the global level. One conclusion was that ranking may differ substantially per region. In Europe, the same methodology was used to rank FBP of relevance for Europe. Of the 24 FBP, the top-five prioritised FBP were identified for Europe as , , , , and spp., all of which are zoonotic. The objective of the present study was to provide an overview of surveillance and reporting systems in Europe for these top five prioritised FBP in the human and animal populations, to identify gaps, and give recommendations for improvement. Information on the surveillance systems was collected from 35 European countries and analysed according to the five different regions. For most FBP, human surveillance is passive in most countries and regions in Europe and notification differs between countries and regions. Adequate surveillance programmes for these FBP are lacking, except for , which is notifiable in 34 countries with active surveillance in susceptible animals under EU directive. Although human and animal surveillance data are available for the five prioritised FBP, we identified a lack of consistency in surveillance and reporting requirements between national experts and European bodies. Recommendations for improved surveillance systems are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parepi.2021.e00205DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7900597PMC
May 2021

An Assessment of Snail-Farm Systems Based on Land Use and Farm Components.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Jan 21;11(2). Epub 2021 Jan 21.

Department of Ichthyology & Aquatic Environment, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Thessaly, Fytoko Street, 38 445 Nea Ionia Magnesia, Greece.

In this study, the structural and management characteristics of snail farms in Greece were analyzed to maximize sustainable food production. Objectives, such as the classification of farming systems and assessing the effects of various annual production parameters, were investigated. Data were collected (2017) via a questionnaire, and sampling was conducted in 29 snail farms dispersed in six different regions (Thrace, Central Macedonia, West Macedonia, Thessaly, Western Greece, and the Attica Islands). Descriptive statistics for continuous variables and frequencies for categorical variables were calculated. The similarity between farms was analyzed using nonmetric multidimensional scaling (nMDS). The average farm operation duration exceeded eight months and the mean annual production was 1597 kg of fresh, live snails. Results recorded five farming systems: elevated sections (7%), net-covered greenhouse (38%), a mixed system with a net-covered greenhouse (10%), open field (38%), and mixed system with an open field (7%). Snail farms differ in the type of substrate, available facilities, and equipment (60% similarity between most of the open field farms). The geographical location of a farms' settlement affects productivity but also influences the duration of operation, especially in open field farms, due to their operation under a wide assortment of climatic types.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11020272DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7911867PMC
January 2021

Increasing importance of anthelmintic resistance in European livestock: creation and meta-analysis of an open database.

Parasite 2020 4;27:69. Epub 2020 Dec 4.

Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Kamycka 129, 165 00 Prague Suchdol, Czech Republic.

Helminth infections are ubiquitous in grazing ruminant production systems, and are responsible for significant costs and production losses. Anthelmintic Resistance (AR) in parasites is now widespread throughout Europe, although there are still gaps in our knowledge in some regions and countries. AR is a major threat to the sustainability of modern ruminant livestock production, resulting in reduced productivity, compromised animal health and welfare, and increased greenhouse gas emissions through increased parasitism and farm inputs. A better understanding of the extent of AR in Europe is needed to develop and advocate more sustainable parasite control approaches. A database of European published and unpublished AR research on gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) and liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) was collated by members of the European COST Action "COMBAR" (Combatting Anthelmintic Resistance in Ruminants), and combined with data from a previous systematic review of AR in GIN. A total of 197 publications on AR in GIN were available for analysis, representing 535 studies in 22 countries and spanning the period 1980-2020. Reports of AR were present throughout the European continent and some reports indicated high within-country prevalence. Heuristic sample size-weighted estimates of European AR prevalence over the whole study period, stratified by anthelmintic class, varied between 0 and 48%. Estimated regional (country) prevalence was highly heterogeneous, ranging between 0% and 100% depending on livestock sector and anthelmintic class, and generally increased with increasing research effort in a country. In the few countries with adequate longitudinal data, there was a tendency towards increasing AR over time for all anthelmintic classes in GIN: aggregated results in sheep and goats since 2010 reveal an average prevalence of resistance to benzimidazoles (BZ) of 86%, macrocyclic lactones except moxidectin (ML) 52%, levamisole (LEV) 48%, and moxidectin (MOX) 21%. All major GIN genera survived treatment in various studies. In cattle, prevalence of AR varied between anthelmintic classes from 0-100% (BZ and ML), 0-17% (LEV) and 0-73% (MOX), and both Cooperia and Ostertagia survived treatment. Suspected AR in F. hepatica was reported in 21 studies spanning 6 countries. For GIN and particularly F. hepatica, there was a bias towards preferential sampling of individual farms with suspected AR, and research effort was biased towards Western Europe and particularly the United Kingdom. Ongoing capture of future results in the live database, efforts to avoid bias in farm recruitment, more accurate tests for AR, and stronger appreciation of the importance of AR among the agricultural industry and policy makers, will support more sophisticated analyses of factors contributing to AR and effective strategies to slow its spread.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/parasite/2020062DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7718593PMC
February 2021

A Qualitative Market Analysis Applied to Mini-FLOTAC and Fill-FLOTAC for Diagnosis of Helminth Infections in Ruminants.

Front Vet Sci 2020 22;7:580649. Epub 2020 Oct 22.

Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.

Helminth infections, mainly by gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN), are one of the main concerns for animal health, welfare and productivity in grazing ruminant livestock worldwide. The use of a sensitive, precise, accurate, low-cost, and easy-to-perform copromicroscopic technique is of pivotal importance to perform reliable fecal egg count (FEC) and fecal egg count reduction test (FECRT), in order to determine the need of anthelmintic treatment, but also anthelmintic efficacy or resistance. This approach is fundamental to a correct and efficient control of GIN. Unfortunately, in worldwide ruminant farm practice, repeated anthelmintic treatments are carried out, without prior diagnosis of infection, contributing to the spread of Anthelmintic Resistance (AR). Tackling this phenomenon, improving mainly the GIN diagnosis and AR status in farm animals, is a priority of the European COST Action "COMBAR-COMBatting Anthelmintic Resistance in Ruminants" and of the STAR-IDAZ International Research Consortium on Animal Health. One of the specific objectives of the COMBAR Working Group 1 (WG1) is to conduct an European market analysis of new diagnostics and develop a business plan for commercial test introduction, leveraging technical know-how of participants. Since the Mini-FLOTAC in combination with the Fill-FLOTAC may be considered a good candidate for a standardized FEC and FECRT in the laboratory, as well as directly in the field, the aim of this study was to conduct SWOT (Strength-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) and PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal) analyses of these tools in 20 European countries involved in the COMBAR WG1, in order to identify the opportunities, barriers, and challenges that might affect the Mini-FLOTAC and Fill-FLOTAC commercialization in Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.580649DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7642452PMC
October 2020

Effect of injectable eprinomectin on milk quality and yield of dairy ewes naturally infected with gastrointestinal nematodes.

Vet Parasitol 2020 Oct 17;286:109245. Epub 2020 Sep 17.

Laboratory of Animal Husbandry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124, Greece. Electronic address:

The objective was to investigate the effect of injectable eprinomectin on milk yield and quality of dairy ewes naturally infected with gastrointestinal nematodes when grazing in communal pastures. Onehundred and fifty (150) clinically healthy adult lactating ewes, equally selected from 3 farms, were included in the study. On day -7, the ewes on each farm were randomly allocated into 2 equal groups of 25 animals (n=50): Control group (C) and Treated group (T). On day 0, ewes in group T were given a single subcutaneous injection of eprinomectin at a dose rate of 0.2 mg/kg bodyweight. Ewes in group C were left untreated during the whole experiment. Ewes in group T with a fecal egg count (FEC) >300 eggs per g on day +60 were treated again. Fecal samples were individually collected on days -7, 0, +30, +60, +90, +120 for FEC estimations and coprocultures. On days -7, 0, +30, +60 and +90, individual milk yield (MY) was recorded using ICAR approved volumetric milk meters. Energy corrected milk yield (ECMY) for 6% fat was also calculated. Moreover, individual milk samples were collected on each day for determination of chemical composition [fat (F%), protein (P%) and lactose (L%) content] and somatic cell counts (SCC). On each day, individual fat and protein yield (FY and PY, respectively) were calculated. Total lactation MY, total ECMY, total FY and total PY were computed. The most prevalent parasite at pre-treatment and post-treatment days was Haemonchus spp. The overall efficacy on days +30 and +90 was 97.27 % and 98.80 %, respectively. In two out of the three farms, 80 % and 91.3 % of T ewes received a second treatment on day +60, due to high parasitic burden. Treatment had a significant effect (P=0.033) on MY with an average benefit of 8%. No significant effects of treatment were observed on the other parameters, although values were constantly numerically higher for treated ewes compared to control ones. In this field trial, injectable eprinomectin had a high overall efficacy and a beneficial effect on daily milk yield.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2020.109245DOI Listing
October 2020

Feeding of carob (Ceratonia siliqua) to sheep infected with gastrointestinal nematodes reduces faecal egg counts and worm fecundity.

Vet Parasitol 2020 Aug 9;284:109200. Epub 2020 Aug 9.

Veterinary Research Institute, Hellenic Agricultural Organization-Demeter, Thermi, 57001, Thessaloniki, Greece.

The present study explored the anthelmintic effects of condensed tannins (CT) in carob (Ceratonia siliqua) pods fed to sheep against gastrointestinal nematodes. Three independent in vivo trials tested whether i) carob pod (CaBP)-containing feed had an anthelmintic effect and if yes, which was the optimal concentration in the diet; ii) whether this effect could be attributed to tannins through the polyethylene glycol (PEG) test and iii) whether there were any synergistic effects when combined with another tannin-containing feed (e.g. sainfoin). In all trials 6-month old nematode-naive lambs, experimentally infected with both Haemonchus contortus and Trichostrongylus colubriformis, were used. Faecal egg counts (FEC) were performed regularly and at the end of each trial adult worm counts (AWC) and female worm fecundity were recorded. In trial 1, 35 lambs (five groups of seven lambs) were fed different CaBP concentrations ranging from 0% to 12 % w/w. FEC declined up to 39.2 % only in the group fed with 12 %CaBP, while a declining trend (P < 0.06) was demonstrated for the AWC of T. colubriformis, which was associated with the increasing concentration of CaBP in feed. Female worm fecundity was reduced in groups fed CaBP for both parasites, however this was only significant for H. contortus (P < 0.001), in a dose dependent manner. In trial 2, four groups of six infected lambs each were used, which received the carob diets CaBP or CaBP + PEG, and the tannin-free diets with or without PEG (C or C + PEG). Results showed that FEC of Groups C, C + PEG, and CaBP + PEG were comparable throughout the trial, while the group receiving only CaBP showed lower FEC from DAY 25 onwards. AWC showed a reduction (67.7 %) only for H. contortus (P < 0.03). Reversal of the anthelmintic effect of CaBP after PEG administration suggested that CT contributed to the anthelmintic action. However, no effect of CaBP was observed on T. colubriformis AWC and on female worm fecundity for both species. Finally, for trial 3 four groups of six lambs each received a diet based on CaBP, sainfoin (S) or a combination (CaBP + S) and were compared to a control (C) diet of lucerne. On DAY 37 FEC values in groups CaBP + S and S tended to be lower compared to the two other groups (C, CaBP), while for AWCs no significant differences were observed for both parasites. The fecundity of H. contortus and T. colubriformis demonstrated significant differences between the treated and control groups, with lower values in the animals receiving CaBP + S. Overall, the results supported the hypothesis that carob had an anthelmintic effect due to its CT, but there was no clear indication of a synergistic effect with sainfoin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2020.109200DOI Listing
August 2020

Mapping the canine vector-borne disease risk in a Mediterranean area.

Parasit Vectors 2020 Jun 3;13(1):282. Epub 2020 Jun 3.

Veterinary Research Institute, Hellenic Agricultural Organization Demeter, 57001, Thermi, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Background: The aim of this study was to determine exposure to vector-borne pathogens (VBPs) in populations of dogs living on Greek islands in the Ionian and Aegean seas.

Methods: In total, 1154 dogs with different lifestyles and of varying ages and breeds were randomly sampled and examined for the presence of clinical signs compatible with canine vector-borne diseases (CVBDs). Blood was collected from each individual animal. For the detection of antibodies against Leishmania spp., the WITNESS® Leishmania test was performed, and positive samples were further examined with indirect enzymatic immunoassay (ELISA). Antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi, Ehrlichia canis or E. ewingii, as well as Anaplasma phagocytophilum or A. platys were investigated using the Snap® 4Dx® Plus test. Positive Ehrlichia spp. and Anaplasma spp. samples were further examined using an indirect ELISA for further identification of the species.

Results: In total, 25.6% of dogs were exposed to at least one of the pathogens investigated, with seroprevalences varying regionally. Of these seropositive dogs, 27.4% displayed clinical signs suggestive of CVBDs, such as cutaneous lesions, enlarged lymph nodes, pale mucous membranes, onychogryphosis and weight loss. The overall seroprevalence detected using the rapid tests was 15.3% for Leishmania spp., whereas 2.3% of the examined dogs were found to be positive for Anaplasma spp. and 7.5% for Ehrlichia spp. while B. burgdorferi was not detected. Twenty-four samples positive to A. phagocytophilum by ELISA were analysed by PCR for the presence of Anaplasma DNA. PCR and sequencing results showed the presence of A. platys DNA in 4 samples and E. canis DNA in 4 samples. The remaining samples (66.7%) were negative.

Conclusions: In the present study, exposure of dogs to VBPs was shown in the geographical areas investigated. Results confirm that on Greek islands VBPs represent a constant health risk for both native and visiting dogs, suggesting the presence of distinct "hot-spots" of VBP infections on different islands. In order to reduce the risk of transmission and the spread to non-endemic regions, the protection of dogs through use of repellents and vaccines, together with owner education, seem to be of paramount importance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-020-04153-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7268178PMC
June 2020

Host Species Determines the Composition of the Prokaryotic Microbiota in Sandflies.

Pathogens 2020 May 29;9(6). Epub 2020 May 29.

Laboratory of Plant and Environmental Biotechnology, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Thessaly, Viopolis 41500, Larissa, Greece.

Phlebotomine sandflies are vectors of the humans' and mammals' parasite spp. Although the role of gut microbiome in the biological cycle of insects is acknowledged, we still know little about the factors modulating the composition of the gut microbiota of sandflies. We tested whether host species impose a strong structural effect on the gut microbiota of spp. Sandflies were collected from the island of Leros, Greece, and classified to and , all being negative to spp. The prokaryotic gut microbiota was determined via 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. species supported distinct microbial communities ( < 0.001). microbiota was the most distinct over-dominated by three and operational taxonomic units (OTUs), while another OTU prevailed in . Conversely, the microbiota of and was composed of several less dominant OTUs. Archaea showed low presence with the dominant OTUs belonging to methanogenic Euryarcheota, ammonia-oxidizing Thaumarcheota, and Nanoarchaeota. We provide first insights into the composition of the bacterial and archaeal community of sandflies and showed that, in the absence of host genotype is the major modulator of sandfly gut microbiota.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9060428DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7350354PMC
May 2020

Cryptosporidium and Giardia in surface water and drinking water: Animal sources and towards the use of a machine-learning approach as a tool for predicting contamination.

Environ Pollut 2020 Sep 11;264:114766. Epub 2020 May 11.

Laboratory of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Veterinary Research Institute, Hellenic Agricultural Organization - DEMETER, 57001, Thermi, Thessaloniki, Greece. Electronic address:

Cryptosporidium and Giardia are important parasites due to their zoonotic potential and impact on human health, often causing waterborne outbreaks of disease. Detection of (oo)cysts in water matrices is challenging and few countries have legislated water monitoring for their presence. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence and origin of these parasites in different water sources in Northern Greece and identify interactions between biotic/abiotic factors in order to develop risk-assessment models. During a 2-year period, using a longitudinal, repeated sampling approach, 12 locations in 4 rivers, irrigation canals, and a water production company, were monitored for Cryptosporidium and Giardia, using standard methods. Furthermore, 254 faecal samples from animals were collected from 15 cattle and 12 sheep farms located near the water sampling points and screened for both parasites, in order to estimate their potential contribution to water contamination. River water samples were frequently contaminated with Cryptosporidium (47.1%) and Giardia (66.2%), with higher contamination rates during winter and spring. During a 5-month period, (oo)cysts were detected in drinking-water (<1/litre). Animals on all farms were infected by both parasites, with 16.7% of calves and 17.2% of lambs excreting Cryptosporidium oocysts and 41.3% of calves and 43.1% of lambs excreting Giardia cysts. The most prevalent species identified in both water and animal samples were C. parvum and G. duodenalis assemblage AII. The presence of G. duodenalis assemblage AII in drinking water and C. parvum IIaA15G2R1 in surface water highlights the potential risk of waterborne infection. No correlation was found between (oo)cyst counts and faecal-indicator bacteria. Machine-learning models that can predict contamination intensity with Cryptosporidium (75% accuracy) and Giardia (69% accuracy), combining biological, physicochemical and meteorological factors, were developed. Although these prediction accuracies may be insufficient for public health purposes, they could be useful for augmenting and informing risk-based sampling plans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114766DOI Listing
September 2020

Investigations from Northern Greece on mussels cultivated in areas proximal to wastewaters discharges, as a potential source for human infection with Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

Exp Parasitol 2020 Mar 28;210:107848. Epub 2020 Jan 28.

Laboratory of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Veterinary Research Institute, Hellenic Agricultural Organization - DEMETER, 57001, Thermi, Thessaloniki, Greece. Electronic address:

Marine bivalves are usually cultivated in shallow, estuarine waters where there is a high concentration of nutrients. Many micro-pollutants, including the protozoan parasites Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp., which also occur in such environments, may be concentrated in shellfish tissues during their feeding process. Shellfish can thus be considered as vehicles for foodborne infections, as they are usually consumed lightly cooked or raw. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to investigate the presence of both parasites in Mediterranean mussels, Mytilus galloprovincialis that are cultivated in Thermaikos Gulf, North Greece, which is fed by four rivers that are contaminated with both protozoa. Moreover, the occurrence of these protozoa was monitored in treated wastewaters from 3 treatment plants that discharge into the gulf. In order to identify potential sources of contamination and to estimate the risk for human infection, an attempt was made to genotype Giardia and Cryptosporidium in positive samples. Immunofluorescence was used for detection and molecular techniques were used for both detection and genotyping of the parasites. In total, 120 mussel samples, coming from 10 farms, were examined for the presence of both protozoa over the 6-month farming period. None of them were found positive by immunofluorescence microscopy for the presence of parasites. Only in 3 mussel samples, PCR targeting the GP60 gene detected Cryptosporidium spp. DNA, but sequencing was not successful. Thirteen out of 18 monthly samples collected from the 3 wastewater treatment plants, revealed the presence of Giardia duodenalis cysts belonging to sub-assemblage AII, at relatively low counts (up to 11.2 cysts/L). Cryptosporidium oocysts (up to 0.9 oocysts/L) were also detected in 4 out of 8 samples, although sequencing was not successful at any of the target genes. At the studied location and under the sampling conditions described, mussels tested were not found to be harboring Giardia cysts and the presence of Cryptosporidium was found only in few cases (by PCR detection only). Our results suggest that the likelihood that mussels from these locations act as vehicles of human infection for Giardia and Cryptosporidium seems low.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exppara.2020.107848DOI Listing
March 2020

Hydro-Ethanolic Extract of Mentha pulegium Exhibit Anthelmintic and Antioxidant Proprieties In Vitro and In Vivo.

Acta Parasitol 2020 Jun 30;65(2):375-387. Epub 2020 Jan 30.

Laboratory of Parasitology, National School of Veterinary Medicine of Sidi Thabet, University of Manouba, 2020, Sidi Thabet, Tunisia.

Introduction: During recent decades, the emergence of chemoresistance among synthetic anthelmintic drugs has increased the interest in screening novel natural anthelmintic compounds derived from plants. The current study is aimed to determine the chemical profile, anthelmintic and antioxidant properties of Mentha pulegium hydro-ethanolic extract.

Materials And Methods: Two tests were used to assess the in vitro anthelmintic activity of the hydro-ethanolic extract of M. pulegium against Haemonchus contortus; egg hatch assay (EHA) and adult worm motility (AWM) assay. M. pulegium extracts at the doses of 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 mg/kg were evaluated in vivo in mice infected with Heligmosomoides polygyrus. The anthelmintic efficacy was monitored using faecal egg count reduction (FECR) and total worm count reduction (TWCR). The antioxidant activity of M. pulegium extract was evaluated by testing the total antioxidant capacity and the DPPH free radical-scavenging ability.

Results: Chromatographic characterization of M. pulegium composition using RP-HPLC revealed the presence of phenolic acids such as syringic acid, ferulic acid and the presence of flavonoid compounds, such as isorhamnetin-3-O-glucoside and kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside. We observed 91.58% inhibition in the EHA at 8 mg/mL after 48 h of incubation (IC50=1.82 mg/mL). In the AWM assay, M. pulegium extract achieved 65.2% inhibition at 8 mg/mL after 8 h. The highest dose (4000 mg/kg) showed a significant nematicidal effect 7 days post-treatment by inducing 60.39% FECR and 71.6% TWCR. We also report strong in vivo antioxidant capacity of the extract, as revealed by a significant increase of the enzymatic activities of catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) enzymes in mice infected with H. polygyrus.

Conclusion: Together, the results in this paper suggest that M. pulegium possesses anthelmintic properties and could be a potential source of novel compounds for the control of helminth parasites as well as its associated oxidative damage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2478/s11686-020-00169-3DOI Listing
June 2020

Priorities in research on foodborne parasites indicated by short-term scientific missions as part of COST Action a European Network for Foodborne Parasites (Euro-FBP).

Exp Parasitol 2020 Feb 9;209:107813. Epub 2019 Dec 9.

Parasitology, Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, PO Box 369, Sentrum, 0102, Oslo, Norway. Electronic address:

The European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) is a funding organization for the creation of research networks. These networks support collaboration and networking among scientists across Europe and thereby give impetus to research advancements and innovation. One of the most important mechanisms of COST actions are the short-term scientific missions (STSM), which are a funding mechanism that enables scientists, particularly those earlier in their careers, to visit an institution or laboratory in another COST Member state in order to learn techniques that will enhance their skills and improve the scientific knowledge of their institution. The European Network for Foodborne Parasites (Euro-FBP; FA1408) was a COST Action that ended in early 2019, which brought together different experts with knowledge and interest on a broad spectrum of different foodborne parasites of relevance in Europe. In the course of the Euro-FBP COST Action, 32 such STSM occurred. This article provides a short overview of the short-term scientific missions that were approved during this action, as well as the relation of these actions to several relevant socio-economic parameters. The subjects of these STSM, the majority of which were concerned with detection techniques, probably reflect the priorities for research skills on foodborne parasites in Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exppara.2019.107813DOI Listing
February 2020

Identification of the association between gene polymorphisms and milk production traits in Sfakia sheep.

Arch Anim Breed 2019 15;62(2):413-422. Epub 2019 Jul 15.

Gene-Marker Laboratory, Department of Agricultural Sciences, Lincoln University, POB 84, Lincoln 7647, New Zealand.

The aim of this study was to estimate the effect of variation in the fatty acid binding protein 4 gene () on milk production traits in Greek Sfakia sheep. Polymerase chain reaction - single-stranded conformational polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) analysis was used to genotype a total of 374 Sfakia ewes for two regions of located around exon 2-intron 2 (Region 1) and exon 3-intron 3 (Region 2). Each month, for a period of 6 months, milk samples were collected from the ewes to measure total milk yield, fat content, protein content, lactose content, non-fat solid content, pH, and somatic cell count (SCC). A general linear model was used to test the association between the variation observed in and milk production traits. Four gene variants (-) were found in Region 1 and two variants (-) were found in Region 2. In the first region, the genotype significantly affected ( ) non-fat solid levels, fat content, and SCC. The presence of the variant was significantly associated ( ) with decreased SCC, while the presence of was significantly associated with decreased milk yield ( ), increased non-fat solid content ( ), decreased fat content ( ), increased lactose content ( ), and increased pH ( ). In the second region, genotype had an effect ( ) on protein content and the presence of the variant was associated ( ) with increased protein content, decreased SCC, and lower pH. The results suggest an association between variation in ovine and milk production traits in Greek Sfakia sheep. Nevertheless, further analyses in independent sheep populations of increased size will strengthen these findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/aab-62-413-2019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6852875PMC
July 2019

Molecular identification of spotted fever group Rickettsia in ticks collected from dogs and small ruminants in Greece.

Exp Appl Acarol 2019 Jul 7;78(3):421-430. Epub 2019 Jun 7.

SaBio, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo, 12, 13005, Ciudad Real, Spain.

Spotted fever group (SFG) Rickettsia are zoonotic and emerging pathogens with considerable impact in public and animal health. Greece is an endemic country of diseases caused by SFG Rickettsia. This work aims to evaluate the prevalence of SFG Rickettsia in ticks collected from domestic hosts including sheep, goats and dogs. Several genetic markers for bacterial genes, such as 16S rRNA, ompA, ompB, atpA, gltA, recA, dnaA and dnaK, were amplified and sequenced to accurately classified the rickettsial pathogens in the ticks. Taxonomy and species classification of the Rickettsia was achieved by combining phylogenetic and in silico digestion analysis of the gene sequences obtained. A total of 187 ticks were collected and classified at the species level as Ixodes gibosus, Dermacentor marginatus, Haemaphysalis parva, H. sulcata, H. punctata, Hyalomma scavatum, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, R. bursa and Rhipicephalus sp. The results showed that 7.5% of ticks were infected with at least one SFG Rickettsia including R. massiliae (n = 3), R. slovaca (n = 5), R. raoultii (n = 1) and R. hoogstraalii (n = 5), collected from sheep (n = 4), goats (n = 5) and dogs (n = 3). Molecular analysis revealed the presence of novel genetic variants of R. hoogstraalii (in H. sulcata and H. parva from goat and sheep) and R. raoultii (in D. marginatus from goat). These results proof the presence of SFG Rickettsia in domestic hosts in Greece, and support the need for continued monitoring, surveillance and further analyses of other hosts and study areas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10493-019-00392-2DOI Listing
July 2019

Protocol standardization for the detection of Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts in Mediterranean mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis).

Int J Food Microbiol 2019 Jun 16;298:31-38. Epub 2019 Mar 16.

Laboratory of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Veterinary Research Institute, Hellenic Agricultural Organization - DEMETER, 57001 Thermi, Thessaloniki, Greece. Electronic address:

Marine bivalve shellfish are of public health interest because they can accumulate pollutants in their tissues. As they are usually consumed raw or lightly cooked, they are considered to be a possible source of foodborne infections, including giardiosis and cryptosporidiosis. Although data indicating contamination of shellfish with Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts have been published, comparing results from different studies is difficult, as there is no standardized protocol for the detection and quantification of these parasites in mussels, and different researchers have used different analytical approaches. The aim of this study was to identify and characterize the most sensitive protocol for the detection of Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts in shellfish. In an effort to test the sensitivity and the detection limits of the protocol, every step of the process was investigated, from initial preparation of the mussel matrix through detection of the parasites. Comparative studies were conducted, including several methods previously applied by other researchers, on commercial mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis spiked with a known number of (oo)cysts of both parasites. As preparation of the mussel matrix plays an important role in the sensitivity of the method, different techniques were tested. These included: (ia) removal of the coarse particles from the matrix with sieving, (ib) extraction of the lipids with diethyl ether, and (ic) artificial digestion of the matrix with pepsin digestion solution, and (ii) the use or not of immunomagnetic separation (IMS) for the concentration of the (oo)cysts. Pre-treatment of the mussel homogenate with pepsin digestion solution, followed by IMS, then detection with a direct immunofluorescence assay, achieved the highest sensitivity: 32.1% (SD: 21.1) of Giardia cysts and 61.4% (SD: 26.2) Cryptosporidium oocysts were recovered, with a detection limit of 10 (oo)cysts per g of mussel homogenate. The outcome of the current study was the standardization of a protocol, with defined detection limits, for the detection of these two protozoan transmission stages in mussels, in order to be used as a reference technique in future studies. Further advantages of this protocol are that it uses the whole mussel as a starting material and does not require difficult handling procedures. The method has potential to be applied in larger surveys and, potentially, to other species of shellfish for the detection of these parasites. However, the composition (lipid to protein ratio) may be of relevance for detection efficiency for some other species of shellfish.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2019.03.009DOI Listing
June 2019

Epidemiology of Taenia saginata taeniosis/cysticercosis: a systematic review of the distribution in the Middle East and North Africa.

Parasit Vectors 2019 Mar 15;12(1):113. Epub 2019 Mar 15.

Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Sentrum, PO Box 369, 0102, Oslo, Norway.

Background: The zoonotic parasite Taenia saginata utilizes bovines as an intermediate host (causing cysticercosis) and humans as the definitive host (causing taeniosis). The public health burden of T. saginata is assumed to be low, but the economic burden is large, due to the resources utilized in the detection and condemnation of infected carcasses and carcass parts. As part of a collaborative effort to synthesize worldwide epidemiological data on this parasite, we present here the results of a systematic review on the distribution of T. saginata taeniosis and bovine cysticercosis in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Methods: Information on the occurrence and prevalence of T. saginata taeniosis and cysticercosis in the MENA region was obtained through a systematic review of published and grey literature, including OIE reports, published between January 1st, 1990 and December 31st, 2017.

Results: A total of 63 publications were retrieved across the 21 MENA countries. Taenia saginata taeniosis was reported in 11 of these countries, whereas unspecified taeniosis was reported for a further seven. Microscopy-based prevalence values ranged between 0.02-8.6%. Bovine cysticercosis prevalence estimates based on meat inspection were only reported for Egypt and Israel, with prevalence data ranging between 0.2-20% and 0.1-9.1% for cattle and buffaloes, respectively. The presence of bovine cysticercosis could be confirmed for 10 additional countries through OIE reports.

Conclusions: Human taeniosis occurrence was confirmed for 86% (18/21) of the countries in the MENA region, although in several of these countries the species responsible was not specified. Religious prohibitions on the consumption of pork and the limited extent of pig farming across much of this region, however, suggest that many reported taeniosis cases are likely to be attributable to T. saginata rather than Taenia solium or Taenia asiatica. There was a paucity of data regarding both the prevalence and economic impact of bovine cysticercosis. More detailed epidemiological data on both T. saginata taeniosis and bovine cysticercosis could be obtained by adopting an integrated "One Health" approach, considering the characteristics (e.g. ecosystem related and sociopolitical aspects) of the MENA region. Compared with more conventional approaches, this could lead to an enhanced performance and cost-effectiveness of surveillance systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-019-3339-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6419812PMC
March 2019

100 Questions in Livestock Helminthology Research.

Trends Parasitol 2019 01 23;35(1):52-71. Epub 2018 Nov 23.

Laboratory for Parasitology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, B9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.

An elicitation exercise was conducted to collect and identify pressing questions concerning the study of helminths in livestock, to help guide research priorities. Questions were invited from the research community in an inclusive way. Of 385 questions submitted, 100 were chosen by online vote, with priority given to open questions in important areas that are specific enough to permit investigation within a focused project or programme of research. The final list of questions was divided into ten themes. We present the questions and set them briefly in the context of the current state of knowledge. Although subjective, the results provide a snapshot of current concerns and perceived priorities in the field of livestock helminthology, and we hope that they will stimulate ongoing or new research efforts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pt.2018.10.006DOI Listing
January 2019

Epidemiology of taeniosis/cysticercosis in Europe, a systematic review: eastern Europe.

Parasit Vectors 2018 Oct 30;11(1):569. Epub 2018 Oct 30.

Parasitological Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Clinical Center of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia.

Background: Taenia solium and Taenia saginata are food-borne parasites of global importance. In eastern Europe only fragmented information is available on the epidemiology of these zoonotic parasites in humans and animal populations. In particular for T. solium, on-going transmission is suspected. The aim of this systematic review was to collect the available data and describe the current knowledge on the epidemiology of T. solium and T. saginata in eastern Europe.

Methods: Literature published in international databases from 1990 to 2017 was systematically reviewed. Furthermore, local sources and unpublished data from national databases were retrieved from local eastern European experts. The study area included 22 countries.

Results: Researchers from 18 out of the 22 countries provided data from local and unpublished sources, while no contacts could be established with researchers from Belarus, Kosovo, Malta and Ukraine. Taeniosis and human cysticercosis cases were reported in 14 and 15 out of the 22 countries, respectively. Estonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia reported cases of porcine cysticercosis. Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine reported bovine cysticercosis.

Conclusions: There is indication that taeniosis and cysticercosis are present across eastern Europe but information on the occurrence of T. solium and T. saginata across the region remains incomplete. Available data are scarce and species identification is in most cases absent. Given the public health impact of T. solium and the potential economic and trade implications due to T. saginata, notification of taeniosis and human cysticercosis should be implemented and surveillance and notification systems in animals should be improved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-018-3153-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6208121PMC
October 2018

W A A V P guideline for evaluating the efficacy of anticoccidials in mammals (pigs, dogs, cattle, sheep).

Vet Parasitol 2018 Apr 15;253:102-119. Epub 2018 Feb 15.

Veterinary Research Institute, Hellenic Agricultural Organisation-Demeter, NAGREF Campus, PO Box 60272, 57001 Thermi, Greece. Electronic address:

This guideline is intended as an aid in the design, implementation and interpretation of studies for the assessment of drug efficacy against Eimeria in cattle and sheep, Cystoisospora in pigs and dogs, and Cryptosporidium in cattle. It deals with the most important aspects of how to conduct both experimental and field studies for dose determination, dose confirmation and assessment of field effectiveness. Also, guidance on the selection of animals, diagnostic techniques, statistical evaluation and methods for the preparation, maintenance and use of parasites is provided. The specific management conditions that may influence the course of natural infections and consequently determine treatment schemes are mentioned and suggestions for best practice in sampling and evaluation of data prior to conducting of efficacy studies are given. The guideline is also intended to assist investigators in carrying out specific studies, provide relevant information for registration authorities involved in the decision-making process, assist in the approval of anticoccidial drugs in the target species, and facilitate the world-wide adoption of standard procedures. Although currently not implemented, issues of drug resistance testing and alternative methods for drug testing are also discussed as future issues in drug testing against mammalian coccidia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2018.02.029DOI Listing
April 2018

Molecular identification of tick-borne pathogens in ticks collected from dogs and small ruminants from Greece.

Exp Appl Acarol 2018 Apr 7;74(4):443-453. Epub 2018 Mar 7.

SaBio, Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Cinegéticos, IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo, 12, 13005, Ciudad Real, Spain.

Ticks are vectors for a variety of human and animal pathogens (bacteria, protozoa and viruses). In order to investigate the pathogens carried by ticks in Greece, a total of 179 adult ticks (114 female and 65 male) were collected from domestic animals (sheep, goats and dogs) from 14 prefectures of six regions of Greece. Among them, 40 were Dermacentor marginatus, 25 Haemaphysalis parva, 22 H. sulcata, one H. punctata, 13 Ixodes gibbosus, 77 Rhipicephalus sanguineus s.l. and one R. bursa. All ticks were tested for the presence of DNA of Anaplasma spp., Babesia spp., Coxiella burnetii, Rickettsia spp. and Theileria spp. The collected ticks were examined by PCR and reverse line blot (RLB) assay. A prevalence of 20.1% for Anaplasma spp., 15.6% for Babesia spp. (identifying B. bigemina, B. divergens, B. ovis and B. crassa), 17.9% for C. burnetii, 15.1% for Rickettsia spp., and 21.2% for Theileria spp. (identifying T. annulata, T. buffeli/orientalis, T. ovis and T. lestoquardi) was found. The results of this study demonstrate the variety of tick-borne pathogens of animal and human importance circulating in Greece, and that awareness is needed to minimize the risk of infection, especially among farmers and pet owners.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10493-018-0237-zDOI Listing
April 2018

Molecular detection of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus in ticks, Greece, 2012-2014.

Parasitol Res 2017 Nov 17;116(11):3057-3063. Epub 2017 Sep 17.

Veterinary Research Institute, HAO-Demeter, NAGREF Campus, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) is transmitted to humans mainly through the bite of infected ticks. In Greece, only one clinical case has been observed, in 2008, but the seroprevalence in humans is relatively high (4.2%). To have a first insight into the circulation of CCHFV in Greece, 2000 ticks collected from livestock during 2012-2014 were tested. CCHFV was detected in 36 of the 1290 (2.8%) tick pools (1-5 ticks per pool). Two genetic lineages were identified: Europe 1 and Europe 2. Most Europe 1 sequences were obtained from Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato ticks, while most Europe 2 sequences were recovered from Rhipicephalus bursa ticks. The number of collected Hyalomma marginatum ticks (the principal vector of CCHFV) was low (0.5% of ticks) and all were CCHFV negative. Since it is not known how efficient ticks of the Rhipicephalus genus are as vectors of the virus, laboratory studies will be required to explore the role of Rhipicephalus spp. ticks in CCHFV maintenance and transmission.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00436-017-5616-6DOI Listing
November 2017

Combination of RT-PCR and proteomics for the identification of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus in ticks.

Heliyon 2017 Jul 12;3(7):e00353. Epub 2017 Jul 12.

SaBio. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Cinegéticos, IREC-CSIC-UCLM-JCCM, 13005 Ciudad Real, Spain.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is an emerging tick-borne zoonotic disease caused by the CCHF virus (CCHFV). In this study, an experimental approach combining RT-PCR and proteomics was used for the identification and characterization of CCHFV in 106 ticks from 7 species that were collected from small ruminants in Greece. The methodological approach included an initial screening for CCHFV by RT-PCR followed by proteomics analysis of positive and control negative tick samples. This novel approach allowed the identification of CCHFV-positive ticks and provided additional information to corroborate the RT-PCR findings using a different approach. Two ticks, and collected from a goat and a sheep, respectively were positive for CCHFV. The sequences for CCHFV RNA segments S and L were characterized by RT-PCR and proteomics analysis of tick samples, respectively. These results showed the possibility of combining analyses at the RNA and protein levels using RT-PCR and proteomics for the characterization of CCHFV in ticks. The results supported that the CCHFV identified in ticks are genetic variants of the AP92 strain. Although the AP92-like strains probably do not represent a high risk of CCHF to the population, the circulation of genetically diverse CCHFV strains could potentially result in the appearance of novel viral genotypes with increased pathogenicity and fitness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2017.e00353DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5508474PMC
July 2017

Epidemiology of taeniosis/cysticercosis in Europe, a systematic review: Western Europe.

Parasit Vectors 2017 Jul 21;10(1):349. Epub 2017 Jul 21.

Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Southampton, England, SO17 1BJ, UK.

Background: Taenia solium and Taenia saginata are zoonotic parasites of public health importance. Data on their occurrence in humans and animals in western Europe are incomplete and fragmented. In this study, we aimed to update the current knowledge on the epidemiology of these parasites in this region.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of scientific and grey literature published from 1990 to 2015 on the epidemiology of T. saginata and T. solium in humans and animals. Additionally, data about disease occurrence were actively sought by contacting local experts in the different countries.

Results: Taeniosis cases were found in twelve out of eighteen countries in western Europe. No cases were identified in Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. For Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the UK, annual taeniosis cases were reported and the number of detected cases per year ranged between 1 and 114. Detected prevalences ranged from 0.05 to 0.27%, whereas estimated prevalences ranged from 0.02 to 0.67%. Most taeniosis cases were reported as Taenia spp. or T. saginata, although T. solium was reported in Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Portugal and the UK. Human cysticercosis cases were reported in all western European countries except for Iceland, with the highest number originating from Portugal and Spain. Most human cysticercosis cases were suspected to have acquired the infection outside western Europe. Cases of T. solium in pigs were found in Austria and Portugal, but only the two cases from Portugal were confirmed with molecular methods. Germany, Spain and Slovenia reported porcine cysticercosis, but made no Taenia species distinction. Bovine cysticercosis was detected in all countries except for Iceland, with a prevalence based on meat inspection of 0.0002-7.82%.

Conclusions: Detection and reporting of taeniosis in western Europe should be improved. The existence of T. solium tapeworm carriers, of suspected autochthonous cases of human cysticercosis and the lack of confirmation of porcine cysticercosis cases deserve further attention. Suspected cases of T. solium in pigs should be confirmed by molecular methods. Both taeniosis and human cysticercosis should be notifiable and surveillance in animals should be improved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-017-2280-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5521153PMC
July 2017

Abundance, zoonotic potential and risk factors of intestinal parasitism amongst dog and cat populations: The scenario of Crete, Greece.

Parasit Vectors 2017 01 25;10(1):43. Epub 2017 Jan 25.

Veterinary Research Institute - Hellenic Agricultural Organization Demeter, Thermi, Thessaloniki, 57001, Greece.

Background: The objectives of this study were to evaluate the prevalence and infection intensity of intestinal parasites in different dog and cat populations in Crete, Greece, estimate the zoonotic risk and identify risk factors.

Methods: Faecal samples from shelter, household and shepherd dogs and shelter and household cats were analyzed using sedimentation/flotation techniques. Giardia and Cryptosporidium were detected by a quantitative direct immunofluorescence assay (IFA). PCR and sequencing was performed to evaluate the zoonotic potential of Giardia and Cryptosporidium positive samples.

Results: Totals of 879 dog and 264 cat faecal samples were examined. In dogs, the overall prevalence was 25.2% (CI: 22.4-28.1) for Giardia spp.; 9.2% (CI: 7.3-11.1) for Ancylostoma/Uncinaria spp.; 7.6% (CI: 5.9-9.4) for Toxocara spp.; 5.9% (CI: 4.4-7.5) for Cryptosporidium spp.; 4.6% (CI: 3.2-5.9) for Cystoisospora spp.; 2.7% (CI: 1.7-3.8) for Toxascaris leonina; 1.7% (CI: 0.9-2.6) for Capillaria spp.; 0.8% (CI: 0.2-1.4) for taeniid eggs; 0.2% (CI: 0-0.5) for Dipylidium caninum; and 0.1% (CI: 0-0.3) for Strongyloides stercoralis. In cats, the prevalence was 20.5% (CI: 15.6-25.3) for Giardia spp.; 9.5% (CI: 5.9-13.0) for Cystoisospora spp.; 8.3% (CI: 5.0-11.7) for Toxocara spp.; 7.6% (CI: 4.4-10.8) for Ancylostoma/Uncinaria spp.; 6.8% (CI: 3.8-9.9) for Cryptosporidium spp.; 4.2% (CI: 1.8-6.6) for Capillaria spp.; 0.8% (CI: 0-1.8) for taeniid eggs; and 0.4% (CI: 0-1.1) for Hammondia/Toxoplasma. Concerning the risk factors evaluated, there was a negative association between age and Giardia infection and between age and T. leonina infection intensity for dogs. Sequencing results revealed the presence of mainly animal-specific G. duodenalis assemblages C and D in dogs and assemblages F, C and BIV-like in cats, with only a limited number of (co-)infections with assemblage A. As for Cryptosporidium, the dog-specific C. canis and the pig-specific C. scrofarum were detected in dogs and the cat-specific C. felis was detected in cats.

Conclusions: High levels of parasitism in both dogs and cats were recorded. Giardia was the most prevalent parasite in all dog and cat populations except for shepherd dogs. Genotyping results suggest a limited zoonotic risk of Giardia and Cryptosporidium infections from dogs and cats in Crete. Taeniid eggs were more prevalent in shepherd dogs suggesting access to carcasses and posing a threat for cystic echinococcosis transmission. Infection rates of Toxocara spp. in both dogs and cats show that companion animals could be a significant source of infection to humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-017-1989-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5264337PMC
January 2017

Novel phlebovirus detected in Haemaphysalis parva ticks in a Greek island.

Ticks Tick Borne Dis 2017 01 29;8(1):157-160. Epub 2016 Oct 29.

Veterinary Research Institute, National Agricultural Research Foundation, NAGREF Campus, PO Box 60272, Thermi, 57001 Thessaloniki, Greece.

During the last decade the number of novel tick-borne phleboviruses has increased rapidly, especially after the identification of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome and Heartland viruses which can cause severe disease in humans. A novel virus, Antigone virus was recently detected in ticks collected from the mainland of Greece. The aim of the present study was to investigate the presence of tick-borne phleboviruses in an island in Greece. During November 2015, 31 ticks were collected from sheep in Lesvos island. Phleboviral RNA was detected in 12/22 adult Haemaphysalis parva ticks. The virus was provisionally named Lesvos virus after the name of the island. Phylogenetic analysis of a 1108-bp L RNA fragment revealed that the Lesvos virus sequences cluster together with Dabieshan and Yongjia tick viruses detected in China in H. longicornis and H. hystricis ticks, respectively. Further studies are needed to investigate its exact distribution, epidemiology and virulence. It is expected that the research studies on tick biology and pathogen-tick-host interactions will allow a better understanding of the virus life cycle and the elucidation of the possible role of the novel tick-borne phleboviruses in public health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2016.10.012DOI Listing
January 2017

Rickettsia species in human-parasitizing ticks in Greece.

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 2016 05;110(5):299-304

2nd Department of Internal Medicine & Unit of Infectious Diseases, Medical Department, Democritus University of Thrace, Greece.

Background: Ticks serve as vectors and reservoirs for a variety of bacterial, viral and protozoan pathogens affecting humans and animals. Unusual increased tick aggressiveness was observed in 2008-2009 in northeastern Greece. The aim of the study was to check ticks removed from persons during 2009 for infection with Rickettsia species.

Methods: A total of 159 ticks were removed from 147 persons who sought medical advice in a hospital. Tick identification was performed morphologically using taxonomic keys. DNA was extracted from each individual tick and a PCR assay targeting the rickettsial outer membrane protein A gene of Rickettsia spp. was applied.

Results: Most of the adult ticks (132/153, 86.3%) were Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Rickettsiae were detected in 23 of the 153 (15.0%) adult ticks. Five Rickettsiae species were identified: R. aeschlimannii, R. africae (n=6), R. massilae (4), R. monacensis (1), and Candidatus R. barbariae (1). To our knowledge, this is the first report of R. africae, R. monacensis, and Candidatus R. barbariae in Greece.

Conclusions: Several Rickettsia species were identified in ticks removed from humans in Greece, including those that are prevalent in northern and southern latitudes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/trstmh/trw022DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4914872PMC
May 2016
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