Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis is an emerging tick-borne pathogen. It is widely distributed in Ixodes ricinus ticks in Europe, but knowledge of its distribution in Norway, where I. ricinus reaches its northern limit, is limited. In this study we have developed a real time PCR test for Ca. N. mikurensis and used it to investigate the distribution of Ca. N. mikurensis in Norway.
Real time PCR targeting the groEL gene was developed and shown to be highly sensitive. It was used to detect Ca. N. mikurensis in 1651 I. ricinus nymphs and adults collected from twelve locations in Norway, from the eastern Oslo Fjord in the south to near the Arctic Circle in the north. The overall prevalence was 6.5% and varied locally between 0 and 16%. Prevalence in adults and nymphs was similar, suggesting that ticks acquire Ca. N. mikurensis predominantly during their first blood meal. In addition, 123 larvae were investigated; Ca. N. mikurensis was not found in larvae, suggesting that transovarial transmission is rare or absent. Sequence analysis suggests that a single variant dominates in Norway.
Ca. N. mikurensis is widespread and common in ticks in Norway and reaches up to their northern limit near the Arctic Circle. Ticks appear to acquire Ca. N. mikurensis during their first blood meal. No evidence for transovarial transmission was found.
ErratumIn: BMC Microbiol. 2020 Jan 10;20(1):9 PMID 31924162
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is an emerging tick-borne disease in Europe. In Norway, the first TBE case occurred in 1997, and since then 1-14 cases have been detected annually along the southern coast. No TBE cases have yet been notified from the eastern coastal area. This study was conducted to assess the need for diagnostic tests and vaccine recommendation for this part of Norway.
Four hundred and sixty-one blood donors living in the county of Østfold were enrolled. After informed consent was obtained, the participants submitted a blood sample and filled out a questionnaire regarding tick bites, outdoor activities, and Flavivirus vaccines and diseases. Ixodes ricinus ticks were collected from the immediate vicinity and were examined in pools of 10 for TBE virus.
Eight human samples were TBE virus IgG-positive by ELISA and 5 of these samples were confirmed positive by neutralization test. Excluding the 2 samples from participants who had reported previous TBE vaccination, this shows a seroprevalence among blood donors of 0.65%. The existence of TBEV in the region was verified in nymphs of Ixodes ricinus by a prevalence of 0.14%.
The seroprevalence of TBE virus IgG and the TBE virus detected in ticks, indicate that TBE cases could occasionally occur in the area. The results should be made available to health care personnel to raise awareness for preventative measures.
Neoehrlichia mikurensis is a tick-borne pathogen widespread among ticks and rodents in Europe and Asia. A previous study on Ixodes ricinus ticks in Norway suggested that N. mikurensis was scarce or absent on the south-west coast of Norway, but abundant elsewhere. The aim of this study was to further investigate the prevalence and distribution of N. mikurensis along the western seaboard of Norway in comparison with more eastern and northern areas. The second aim of the study was to examine seasonal variation of the bacterium in one specific location in the south-eastern part of Norway. Questing I. ricinus were collected from 13 locations along the coast of Norway, from Brønnøysund in Nordland County to Spjaerøy in Østfold County. In total, 11,113 nymphs in 1,113 pools and 718 individual adult ticks were analysed for N. mikurensis by real-time PCR. The mean prevalence of N. mikurensis in adult ticks was 7.9% while the estimated pooled prevalence in nymphs was 3.5%. The prevalence ranged from 0% to 25.5%, with the highest prevalence in the southernmost and the northernmost locations. The pathogen was absent, or present only at low prevalence (
The tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV), a zoonotic flaviviral infection, is endemic in large parts of Norway and Eurasia. Humans are mainly infected with TBEV via bites from infected ticks. In Norway, the main geographical distribution of ticks is along the Norwegian coastline from southeast (~59°N) and up to the southern parts of Nordland County (~65°N). In this study, we collected ticks by flagging along the coast from Østfold County to Nordland County. By whole-genome sequencing of the mitochondrial genome of Ixodes ricinus, the phylogenetic tree suggests that there is limited phylogeographic structure both in Norway and in Europe. The overall TBEV prevalence is 0.3% for nymphs and 4.3% for adults. The highest estimated TBEV prevalence in adult ticks was detected in Rogaland and Vestfold County, while for nymphs it is highest in Vestfold, Vest-Agder and Rogaland. The present work is one of the largest studies on distribution and prevalence of TBEV in ticks in Scandinavia, showing that the virus is wider distributed in Norway than previously anticipated.
Head lice infestations cause distress in many families. A well-founded strategy to reduce head lice prevalence must shorten the infectious period of individual hosts. To develop such a strategy, information about the actions taken (inspection, treatment and informing others about own infestations), level of knowledge and costs is needed. The present study is the first to consider all these elements combined.
A questionnaire was answered by 6203 households from five geographically separated municipalities in Norway.
94% of the households treated members with pediculicides when head lice were discovered. Nearly half of the households checked biannually or not at all. Previous occurrence of head lice and multiple children in a household improved both checking frequency and method. More than 90% of the households informed close contacts about their own pediculosis. Direct costs of pediculosis were low (less than €6.25 yearly) for 70% of the households, but the ability to pay for pediculicides decreased with the number of head lice infestations experienced. One in three households kept children from school because of pediculosis. Other widespread misconceptions, such as that excessive cleaning is necessary to fight head lice, may also add unnecessary burden to households. School affiliation had a significant effect on checking frequency and method, knowledge and willingness to inform others about own pediculosis.
Increased checking frequencies appear to be the most important element to reduce head lice prevalence in Norway and should be a primary focus of future strategies. National campaigns directed through schools to individual households, might be an important tool to achieve this goal. In addition to improving actions taken, such campaigns should also provide accurate information to reduce costs and enhance the level of knowledge about head lice in households.
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Health providers need to know which measures to take and children to prioritize in order to decrease costs associated with head lice infestations.
Our aim was to determine the most important predictors for head lice and identify the major drivers of an infestation outbreak in a low-prevalence area.
The study was based on three datasets of head lice prevalence (retrospective, point prevalence and prospective approach) from primary school children (ages 6-12) at 12 schools in Oslo, Norway. The tested predictors were siblings with lice, individual and household characteristics as well as class and school affiliation. Self-reported monthly incidences (prospective approach) of head lice were used to evaluate infestation dynamics.
Infested siblings strongly increased the odds of head lice infestation of school children (odds ratio 36, 26 and 7 in the three datasets) whereas having short hair halved the odds. Household characteristics were of minor importance, and class affiliation proved more important than school affiliation. Having head lice in one school term increased the odds of an infestation in the next, but this effect diminished over time. About 97% of all self-reported infestations were noted in two consecutive months or less.
With the exception of hair length, we have found that individual and household characteristics are of minor importance to predict head lice infestations in a low-prevalence country and that unnoticed transmissions in school classes and families are likely to be the major driver upon outbreaks.
SUMMARYHead lice prevalence varies greatly between and within countries, and more knowledge is needed to approach causes of this variation. In the present study, we investigated head lice prevalence among elementary school students and their households in relation to individual and household characteristics as well as spatial variables. The investigation included households from 5 geographically separated municipalities. Present infestations among household members as well as previous infestations in the household were reported in a questionnaire. In elementary school students prevalence was low (1·63%), but more than one-third of the households (36·43%) had previously experienced pediculosis. Prevalence was higher in elementary school students than in other household members, and highest in third-grade children. Prevalence was also influenced by the school attended, which suggested that interactions between children in the same school are important for head lice transmission. Previous occurrence of head lice in homes also increased the risk of present infestation. Prevalence of previous infestations was higher in households with more children and in more densely populated municipalities, indicating that the density of hosts or groups of hosts influences transmission rates. These results demonstrate that information of hosts' spatial distribution as well as household and individual characteristics is needed to better understand head lice population dynamics.
The taiga tick, Ixodes persulcatus, has previously been limited to eastern Europe and northern Asia, but recently its range has expanded to Finland and northern Sweden. The species is of medical importance, as it, along with a string of other pathogens, may carry the Siberian and Far Eastern subtypes of tick-borne encephalitis virus. These subtypes appear to cause more severe disease, with higher fatality rates than the central European subtype. Until recently, the meadow tick, Dermacentor reticulatus, has been absent from Scandinavia, but has now been detected in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Dermacentor reticulatus carries, along with other pathogens, Babesia canis and Rickettsia raoultii. Babesia canis causes severe and often fatal canine babesiosis, and R. raoultii may cause disease in humans. We collected 600 tick nymphs from each of 50 randomly selected sites in Denmark, southern Norway and south-eastern Sweden in August-September 2016. We tested pools of 10 nymphs in a Fluidigm real time PCR chip to screen for I. persulcatus and D. reticulatus, as well as tick-borne pathogens. Of all the 30,000 nymphs tested, none were I. persulcatus or D. reticulatus. Our results suggest that I. persulcatus is still limited to the northern parts of Sweden, and have not expanded into southern parts of Scandinavia. According to literature reports and supported by our screening results, D. reticulatus may yet only be an occasional guest in Scandinavia without established populations.
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is the most important viral tick-borne disease in Europe and can cause severe disease in humans. In Norway, human cases have been reported only from the southern coast. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) in questing Ixodes ricinus ticks from the north-western part of Norway. A total of 4509 ticks were collected by flagging in May and June 2014. A subpopulation of 2220 nymphs and 162 adult ticks were analysed by real-time PCR and positive samples were confirmed by pyrosequencing. The estimated prevalence of TBEV was 3.08% among adult ticks from Sekken in Møre og Romsdal County and 0.41% among nymphs from both Hitra and Frøya in Sør-Trøndelag County. This study indicates that TBEV might be more widespread than the distribution of reported human cases suggests.
How head lice infestations are managed by households is an important but generally neglected issue in head lice research. In the present study, we investigate actions taken against head lice by Norwegian households in association with socioeconomic status, family background, school-related variables and other key factors. Repeat questionnaires distributed to caretakers of the same elementary school children during a 2-year period enabled us to study both previous head lice management and any changes in this management through time. Households from 12 schools spanning the main socioeconomic variation found in Norway participated in the study. All students with active head lice infestation were treated in the four investigated periods. Most caretakers used a thorough head lice checking technique and informed others of own infestation. Checking frequency was low as most children were inspected less than monthly. The best determinant of increased checking frequency and thoroughness was personal experience with head lice. The increased awareness, however, seemed to be somewhat short-lived, as there was a decrease in checking frequency and thoroughness within 1 year after infestation. Personal experience with head lice also increased general knowledge related to the parasite. Parents born in developing countries checked their children for head lice more frequently, although less thoroughly, informed fewer contacts when infested, used pediculicides preventively more often and knew less about head lice than parents born in developed countries. Households with highly educated mothers had a lower checking frequency, but their knowledge and willingness to inform others was high. Single parents were more concerned about economic costs and kept children home from school longer while infested than other parents. As head lice management varied among socioeconomic groups and with parental background, differentiated advice should be considered in the control of head lice. The biannual focus on head lice during the 2 years of investigation increased checking thoroughness, while checking frequency remained unchanged. Based on the results, we suggest new head lice management guidelines for health authorities.