Haemaphysalis concinna is the second most common tick species attaching to birds in Hungary. Recently, Babesia genotypes, found in Siberia and the Far East, have been detected in this tick species collected from the vegetation in Hungary and Slovakia. The aim of this study was to molecularly investigate if these piroplasms also occur in H. concinna carried by migratory birds, which might explain their occurrence in the western Palaearctic. During a 2-year period, 321 H. concinna larvae and nymphs were collected from 121 passerine birds (of 19 species) in Hungary. These were molecularly investigated for the presence of piroplasm DNA with PCR and sequencing. The prevalence of PCR positive ticks was 15.9% (51 out of 321). Piroplasm PCR positivity of H. concinna ticks was significantly more frequent during the summer and autumn compared to spring, suggesting that migratory birds arriving in Hungary from the north or north east are the most important in the dispersal of H. concinna-associated piroplasms. Three genotypes, i.e. Babesia sp. "Irk-Hc133", "Irk-Hc130" (originally found in Irkutsk, Siberia) and "Kh-Hc222" (originally found in Khabarovsk, Far East) were detected. Phylogenetically all these belonged to the group formed by Babesia spp. of ruminants. Four bird species, which had 14-60% prevalence of PCR positive ticks, are known to be associated with northeast to southwest autumn migration. In conclusion, the presence of Central and East Asian Babesia genotypes in Central Europe are most likely related to bird species with known eastern migratory habit and/or phylogenetically substantiated connections between their eastern and western Eurasian populations.
Ticks (order: Ixodida) are a highly diverse and ecologically important group of ectoparasitic blood-feeding organisms. One such species, the seabird tick (Ixodes uriae), is widely distributed around the circumpolar regions of the northern and southern hemispheres. It has been suggested that Ix. uriae spread from the southern to the northern circumpolar region millions of years ago and has remained isolated in these regions ever since. Such a profound biographic subdivision provides a unique opportunity to determine whether viruses associated with ticks exhibit the same evolutionary patterns as their hosts. To test this, we collected Ix. uriae specimens near a Gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) colony at Neko harbour, Antarctica, and from migratory birds-the Razorbill (Alca torda) and the Common murre (Uria aalge)-on Bonden island, northern Sweden. Through meta-transcriptomic next-generation sequencing we identified 16 RNA viruses, seven of which were novel. Notably, we detected the same species, Ronne virus, and two closely related species, Bonden virus and Piguzov virus, in both hemispheres indicating that there have been at least two cross-circumpolar dispersal events. Similarly, we identified viruses discovered previously in other locations several decades ago, including Gadgets Gully virus, Taggert virus and Okhotskiy virus. By identifying the same or closely related viruses in geographically disjunct sampling locations we provide evidence for virus dispersal within and between the circumpolar regions. In marked contrast, our phylogenetic analysis revealed no movement of the Ix. uriae tick hosts between the same locations. Combined, these data suggest that migratory birds are responsible for the movement of viruses at both local and global scales.
Disseminated visceral coccidiosis (DVC) caused by Eimeria spp was first recognized as a disease entity in captive sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) and whooping cranes (G americana) at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Because cranes produced at the Center are reintroduced to the wild to augment wild populations, studies involving both experimentally induced and natural infections were initiated to determine the potential or actual occurrence of DVC in wild Gruidae. Nine sandhill cranes dosed orally with eimerian oocysts of wild origin developed lesions characteristic of DVC. Extraintestinal granulomas associated with developing schizonts were found in 6 birds. Similar lesions were observed in wild sandhill cranes throughout parts of midwestern United States, Alaska, and Saskatchewan. These studies revealed the wide geographic distribution and the high frequency of occurrence of DVC in wild cranes.
Haemoproteus minutus and Haemoproteus belopolskyi (Haemoproteidae): complete sporogony in the biting midge Culicoides impunctatus (Ceratopogonidae), with implications on epidemiology of haemoproteosis.
Species of Haemoproteus (Haemoproteidae) are cosmopolitan haemosporidian parasites, some of which cause severe diseases in birds. Numerous recent studies address molecular characterization, distribution and genetic diversity of haemoproteids. However, the information about their vectors is scarce. We investigated sporogonic development of two widespread species of Haemoproteus (Haemoproteus minutus and Haemoproteus belopolskyi) in the experimentally infected biting midge Culicoides impunctatus. Wild-caught flies were allowed to take blood meals on naturally infected common blackbirds Turdus merula and icterine warblers Hippolais icterina harboring mature gametocytes of H. minutus (lineage hTURDUS2) and H. belopolskyi (hHIICT1), respectively. The engorged flies were collected, transported to the laboratory, held at 15-18°C, and dissected daily in order to obtain ookinetes, oocysts and sporozoites. Mature ookinetes of H. minutus developed blisteringly rapidly; they were numerous in the midgut content between 1 and 4 h post exposure. Ookinetes of H. belopolskyi developed slower and were reported 1 day post exposure (dpe). Oocysts of both parasites were seen in the midgut wall 3-4 dpe. Sporozoites of H. minutus and H. belopolskyi were first observed in the salivary glands preparations 7 dpe. The percentage of experimentally infected flies with sporozoites of H. minutus was 82.1% and 91.7% with H. belopolskyi. In accordance with microscopy data, polymerase chain reaction amplification and sequencing confirmed presence of the corresponding parasite lineages in experimentally infected biting midges. Sporogonic stages of these parasites were described and illustrated. This study indicates that C. impunctatus is involved in the transmission of deadly H. minutus, which kills captive parrots in Europe. This biting midge is an important vector of avian haemoproteids and worth more attention in epidemiology research of avian haemoproteosis.
Macroscopic Sarcocystis cysts were detected in the muscles of 28 Mallards ( Anas platyrhynchos ), 1 Eurasian Wigeon ( Anas penelope ), and 1 Common Teal ( Anas crecca ) hunted in Lithuania and Finland. According to the sequences of the 18S rRNA gene, 28S rRNA gene, and ITS-1 region, the macrocysts examined from all 30 ducks belonged to Sarcocystis rileyi. This parasite was found in the Eurasian Wigeon and the Common Teal for the first time. All S. rileyi isolates examined were identical to each other and differed from 2 S. rileyi isolates previously reported from 2 Mallards from the United States only by 1 nucleotide substitution within the ITS-1 region.
In total, 30 lesser yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes (Charadriiformes), 24 from southwestern United States and 6 from Alaska, were examined for metazoan parasites. Ten species of helminths (4 cestodes, 4 trematodes, and 2 nematodes), and 5 species of ectoparasites were collected. Cestodes were the most prevalent and abundant taxon. The dominant cestode was an undescribed species of Choanotaenia. The cestode Kowalewskiella totani was the only helminth recovered from Alaskan hosts, and it was also present in birds from the southwest. It appears to be a specialist in lesser yellowlegs. The mallophagans Quadraceps falcigerus and Actornithophilus totani and the nasal mite Colinoptes cubanensis were common to birds from both geographic regions. Characteristics of the helminth community from the southwest and ectoparasite communities of this region and Alaska were low mean species richness, low mean abundance, medium diversity, and uneven distribution of parasites.
Opisthorchiasis is a widespread helminth infection in Russia. The largest opisthorchiasis endemic focus in the world is the Ob river watershed in Western Siberia. The main causative agent of this condition is the liver fluke, Opisthorchis felineus. In addition, another liver fluke species in the Opisthorchiidae family, Metorchis bilis, causes a symptomatically similar disease, metorchiasis. Despite a long research history going back to 1927, opisthorchiasis remains a serious problem in Russia, and numerous questions related to the epidemiology of these liver fluke infections and their patterns of distribution in Western Siberia, the causes of high prevalence in different populations, and the prognosis of the epidemiological situation remain to be answered. In this review, we first briefly describe the life cycle of O. felineus and then summarize the available published data on the epidemiological aspects of O. felineus infection among populations in Western Siberia. Additionally, the geographical distribution and rates of infection with the two major small liver flukes, O. felineus and M. bilis, in the intermediate (Bithyniidae snails and cyprinid fish) and definitive (humans, wild and domestic carnivorous animals and birds) hosts are described to assess their role in the transmission cycle. Moreover, species in the genus Opisthorchis and the genus Metorchis that have been reported in carnivorous mammals and birds in Western Siberia are listed and their potential to serve as the agents of opisthorchiasis transmission is discussed.
We examined 46 Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) carcasses from Iceland for parasites, including 29 first-year birds and 17 second-year birds and older. Endoparasites observed were the trematodes Cryptocotyle lingua (prevalence 8%), Cryptocotyle concavum (4%), and Strigea sp. (8%); the cestode Mesocestoides sp. (27%); and the nematodes Eucoleus contortus (76%) and Serratospiculum guttatum (7%). Ectoparasites included the astigmatan mite Dubininia accipitrina (47%), a mesostigmatan rhynonyssid mite (4%), the tick Ixodes caledonicus (20%), the mallophagans Degeeriella rufa (90%) and Nosopon lucidum (7%), the flea Ceratophyllus vagabundus (7%), and the louse fly Ornithomya chloropus (7%). Cryptocotyle lingua, C. concavum, S. guttatum, D. accipitrina, I. caledonicus, and N. lucidum are new host records. Of the five most common parasites (prevalence = 20%) only Mesocestoides sp. showed a significant age relationship, being more prevalent in adult falcons (P = 0.021). Eucoleus contortus was also more prevalent in adults with marginal statistical significance (P = 0.058). Frounce, caused by E. contortus (possibly also by Trichomonas gallinae, which was not searched for in the survey) was highly prevalent (43%), but did not show a relationship with host age (P = 0.210). Birds with frounce were in poorer body condition than healthy birds (P = 0.015).
This study, based on the materials on parasitic infection of marine birds and invertebrates in Frantz Josef Land (FJL) collected in 1991-1993, focussed on the acanthocephalan Polymorphus phippsi. We identified this parasite, confirmed its species status and analysed its circulation and transmission patterns in high Arctic. The causes of its erroneous identification as P. minutus in several studies were also examined. In contrast to P. minutus, the transmission of P. phippsi is realized in marine coastal ecosystems. Its' main intermediate host in the Arctic is the amphipod Gammarus (Lagunogammarus) setosus, commonin coastal. areas of the shelf zone throughout the Arctic basin. P. phippsi population in FJL and the entire European Arctic is on the whole maintained by a single obligate final host, the common eider Somateria mollissima. Prevalence (P) of P. phippsi in this bird reached 100 %, with the maximal infection intensity (IImax) of 1188 and the mean abundance (MA) of 492.1. Other species of birds found to be infected with P. phippsi (Arctic turn, black guillemot, purple sandpiper and several gulls) are facultative and/or eliminative hosts. The most heavily infected birds were Arctic terns (P = 72.7%, IImax = 227, MA = = 47.1), which contained single mature acanthocephalans. For one of the FJL regions, infections flows of P. phippsi through various host categories were calculated. Involvement of birds unrelated to the common eider into the circulation of P. phippsi is facilitated by their feeding character in the Arctic. While coastal crustaceans are abundant, fish food is relatively scarce (polar cod, snailfishes), and so amphipods make up a considerable part of the diet of marine birds in FJL, if not most of it, as for instance in case of Arctic tern. This promotes an easy entry of the larvae of crustaceans-parasitizing helminthes (cestodes and acanthocephalans, including cystacanths P. phippsi) into non-specific hosts and opens broad colonization possibilities. Besides acanthocephalans, the phenomenon of non-specific parasitism has been shown for some cestodes circulating in the Arctic coastal ecosystems. Similar conditions for helminths transmission might have formed in marine coastal refugia during the glacial periods of late Pliocene-Pleistocene. According to the Arctic refugium hypothesis of Hoberg and Adams, this promoted parasitic colonization of phylogenetically distant hosts using similar foraging resources. Thus, present-day transmission patterns of helminthes in high Arctic can be, in a way, considered as a model allowing us to witness various stages of helminthes' speciation by host-switching.
Climate-related changes are expected to influence the prevalence and distribution of vector-borne haemosporidian parasites at northern latitudes, although baseline information about resident birds is still lacking. In this study, we investigated prevalence and genetic diversity of Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon parasites infecting the northwestern crow (Corvus caurinus), a non-migratory passerine with unique life-history characteristics. This species occupies both intertidal and forested habitats and is subject to high prevalence of avian keratin disorder (AKD), a disease that causes gross beak deformities. Investigation of avian blood parasites in northwestern crows at sites broadly distributed across coastal Alaska provided an opportunity to evaluate specific host factors related to parasite infection status and assess geographical patterns of prevalence.
We used molecular methods to screen for haemosporidian parasites in northwestern crows and estimated genus-specific parasite prevalence with occupancy modeling that accounts for imperfect detection of parasite infection. We observed considerable geographical and annual variation in prevalence of Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon, but these patterns were not correlated with indices of local climatic conditions. Our models also did not provide support for relationships between the probability of parasite infection and body condition or the occurrence of co-infections with other parasite genera or clinical signs of AKD. In our phylogenetic analyses, we identified multiple lineages of each parasite genus, with Leucocytozoon showing greater diversity than Plasmodium or Haemoproteus.
Results from this study expand our knowledge about the prevalence and diversity of avian blood parasites in northern resident birds as well as corvids worldwide. We detected all three genera of avian haemosporidians in northwestern crows in Alaska, although only Leucocytozoon occurred at all sites in both years. Given the strong geographical and annual variation in parasite prevalence and apparent lack of correlation with climatic variables, it appears that there are other key factors responsible for driving transmission dynamics in this region. Thus, caution is warranted when using standard climatic or geographical attributes in a predictive framework. Our phylogenetic results demonstrate lower host specificity for some lineages of Leucocytozoon than is typically reported and provide insights about genetic diversity of local haemosporidian parasites in Alaska.