Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) can cause severe meningitis, encephalitis, and meningoencephalitis. TBEV represents a pathogen of high zoonotic potential and an emerging global threat. There are three known subtypes of TBEV: Far-Eastern, Siberian and European. Since 2001 there have been suggestions that two new subtypes may be distinguished: "178-79" and "886-84". These assumptions are based on the results of the envelope gene fragment sequencing (Zlobin et al., 2001; Kovalev and Mukhacheva, 2017) and genotype-specific probes molecular hybridization (Demina et al., 2010). There is only one full-genome sequence of "178-79" strain and two identical ones of "886-84" strain can be found in GenBank. For clarification of the intraspecific position of the "886-84-like" strains group we completely sequenced six previously unknown "886-84-like" strains isolated in Eastern Siberia. As a result of applying different bioinformatics approaches, we can confirm that "886-84-like" strains group is a distinct subtype of TBEV.
Bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) and laboratory strains of house mice (Mus musculus BALB and C57BL) were relocated into enclosures in a highly contaminated area of the Red Forest near the Chornobyl (Ukraine) Reactor 4 to evaluate the uptake rates of 137Cs and 90Sr from abiotic sources. Mice were provided with uncontaminated food supplies, ensuring that uptake of radionuclides was through soil ingestion, inhalation, or water. Mice were sampled before introduction and were reanalyzed every 10 d for 137Cs uptake. Levels of 90Sr were assessed in subsamples from the native populations and in experimental animals at the termination of the study. Uptake rates in house mice were greater than those in voles for both 137Cs and 90Sr. Daily uptake rates in house mice were estimated at 2.72 x 10(12) unstable atoms per gram (whole body) for 137Cs and 4.04 x 10(10) unstable atoms per gram for 90Sr. Comparable rates in voles were 2.26 x 10(11) unstable atoms per gram for 137Cs and 1.94 x 10(10) unstable atoms per gram for 90Sr. By comparing values from voles in the enclosures to those from wild voles caught within 50 m of the enclosures, it was estimated that only 8.5% of 137Cs was incorporated from abiotic sources, leaving 91.5% being incorporated by uptake from biotic materials. The fraction of 90Sr uptake from abiotic sources was at least 66.7% (and was probably much higher). Accumulated whole-body doses during the enclosure periods were estimated as 174 mGy from intramuscular 137Cs and 68 mGy by skeletal 90Sr in house mice over 40 d and 98 mGy from 137Cs and 19 mGy from 90Sr in voles over 30 d. Thus, uptake of radionuclides from abiotic materials in the Red Forest at Chornobyl is an important source of internal contamination.
Natural tularemia foci of the meadow and steppe type are extremely stable and become active in those years when the most favourable living conditions for rodents appear. For the first time during the last 30 years a great increase in the number of common voles, accompanied by widely spread epizooty covering the whole territory of the Tula region, was observed. House mice, common field mice, harvest mice and black rats were also involved in this epizooty and 235 tularemia patients with all clinical forms of the disease were registered, the pulmonary form of the disease being prevalent. The cases of the disease were observed among both urban and rural population. In spite of a high morbidity rate, no cases of group infection were registered in domestic conditions and among agricultural workers due to the existence of the numerous immune layer among the population. The formation of this layer resulted from planned vaccinal prophylaxis covering, on the average, 86.3% of the rural population of the region.
Although at least 30 novel hantaviruses have been recently discovered in novel hosts such as shrews, moles and even bats, hantaviruses (family Bunyaviridae, genus Hantavirus) are primarily known as rodent-borne human pathogens. Here we report on identification of a novel hantavirus variant associated with a rodent host, Major's pine vole (Microtus majori). Altogether 36 hantavirus PCR-positive Major's pine voles were identified in the Krasnodar region of southern European Russia within the years 2008-2011. Initial partial L-segment sequence analysis revealed novel hantavirus sequences. Moreover, we found a single common vole (Microtusarvalis) infected with Tula virus (TULV). Complete S- and M-segment coding sequences were determined from 11 Major's pine voles originating from 8 trapping sites and subjected to phylogenetic analyses. The data obtained show that Major's pine vole is a newly recognized hantavirus reservoir host. The newfound virus, provisionally called Adler hantavirus (ADLV), is closely related to TULV. Based on amino acid differences to TULV (5.6-8.2% for nucleocapsid protein, 9.4-9.5% for glycoprotein precursor) we propose to consider ADLV as a genotype of TULV. Occurrence of ADLV and TULV in the same region suggests that ADLV is not only a geographical variant of TULV but a host-specific genotype. High intra-cluster nucleotide sequence variability (up to 18%) and geographic clustering indicate long-term presence of the virus in this region.
Fluctuations in the abundance of main prey species might shape animal communities, by inducing numerical responses and dietary shifts in predators. Whether numerical responses and dietary shifts differ among individuals of different age and sex has so far gained little attention. These differences could affect how much predators consume main and alternative prey, thus causing variation in predation pressure on main and alternative prey species. We studied the effect of fluctuating main prey abundance (voles) in autumn on the age and sex composition of a food-hoarding population of Eurasian pygmy owls Glaucidium passerinum (327 individuals), and on the species composition of their food stores in western Finland during 2003-2017 (629 food stores). Numbers of yearlings (
1. Pathogens often cause detrimental effects to their hosts and, consequently, may influence host population dynamics that may, in turn, feed back to pathogen transmission dynamics. Understanding fitness effects of pathogens upon animal host populations can help to predict the risks that zoonotic pathogens pose to humans. 2. Here we determine whether chronic infection by Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) affects important fitness-related traits, namely the probability of breeding, reproductive effort and mother and offspring condition, in the bank vole (Myodes glareolus). Using 9 years empirical data in a PUUV endemic area in Central Finland, we found differences between reproductive characteristics of PUUV-infected and uninfected female bank voles. 3. Young infected females had a significantly higher, and old individuals lower, likelihood of reproducing than uninfected animals during the middle of the breeding season. The implication is that PUUV infection may have long-term deleterious effects that are observed at old age, while in young individuals, the infection may enhance breeding probability by directing resources towards current breeding. 4. Moreover, PUUV infection was related with the mother's body condition. Infected mothers were in poorer condition than uninfected mothers in the early breeding season, but were in better condition than uninfected mothers during the middle of the breeding season. Offspring body condition was positively associated with mother's body condition, which, in turn, was related to the PUUV infection status of the mother. 5. Our findings indicate that chronic infection may affect the reproduction of female hosts, but the effect is dependent on the host age. The effect of chronic hantavirus infection was small and density-independent and hence unlikely to contribute to the cyclic population dynamics of the host. However, the effects on a female's reproductive output might affect the abundance of young susceptible individuals in the population and hence influence the transmission and persistence of the pathogen. Although experimental and long-term capture-mark-recapture studies are required to further clarify the fitness effects of hantavirus infection and their consequences for pathogen dynamics, this study shows that the infection may have complex effects that are dependent on the age of the individual and the time of the breeding season.
Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are contaminants that are applied in a wide range of consumer products, including ski products. The present study investigated the neuro-dopamine (DA) and cellular steroid hormone homeostasis of wild Bank voles (Myodes glareolus) from a skiing area in Norway (Trondheim), in relation to tissue concentrations of PFAS. We found a positive association between brain DA concentrations and the concentration of several PFAS, while there was a negative association between PFAS and dopamine receptor 1 (dr1) mRNA. The ratio between DA and its metabolites (3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid: DOPAC and homovanillic acid: HVA) showed a negative association between DOPAC/DA and several PFAS, suggesting that PFAS altered the metabolism of DA via monoamine oxidase (Mao). This assumption is supported by an observed negative association between mao mRNA and PFAS. Previous studies have shown that DA homeostasis can indirectly regulate cellular estrogen (E2) and testosterone (T) biosynthesis. We found no association between DA and steroid hormone levels, while there was a negative association between some PFAS and T concentrations, suggesting that PFAS might affect T through other mechanisms. The results from the current study indicate that PFAS may alter neuro-DA and steroid hormone homeostasis in Bank voles, with potential consequences on reproduction and general health.
The reproductive response of collared lemmings (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) to photoperiod is unique for rodents. Whereas most reproductively photoresponsive rodents show maximal gonadal growth when exposed to long photoperiod (long day), collared lemmings show delayed maturation when born and maintained under this condition. However, transfer of lemmings from short photoperiod (short day) to long day results in maximal gonadal growth, indicating that the response to long day depends upon photoperiod history. We hypothesized that the slowing of maturation observed in animals born and maintained on long day reflects an inability to respond fully to long day, resulting from the absence of previous exposure to short day. To determine whether young lemmings born in long day are capable of being stimulated by long day, we exposed them at weaning (19 days of age) to 1, 6 or 10 weeks of short day, and then challenged them with a second exposure to long day. Relative to animals transferred permanently to short day at weaning, lemmings exposed to 6 weeks of short day showed accelerated gonadal growth after both 5 and 10 weeks of subsequent exposure to long day, and those exposed to 10 weeks of short day had larger testes after 6 weeks of long day. Thus, during transient exposure to short day, the animals acquired sensitivity to the stimulatory effects of long day. The responses of body mass, bifid claw width and pelage colour to the photoperiod manipulations did not parallel that of the gonads, indicating independent regulation of somatic and reproductive parameters. The unique way in which the reproductive system of collared lemmings responds to photoperiod may reflect evolution in an environment where the production of offspring during periods of unchanging long day (for example, the Arctic summer) is not selectively advantageous.