Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The taming of the shrew - The bicoloured shrew is a health risk for horses

11.04.2014

The bicoloured shrew is a protected species in Central Europe, but these furry insect-eaters have a dark secret. Researchers from the Vetmeduni Vienna have discovered that bicoloured shrews carry the Borna virus. Infection with this virus causes fatal encephalitis in horses. The mechanisms of transmission had until now been unclear, but we now know more about one route - from bicoloured shrews to hosts. The study was published recently in the journal PLOS ONE.

The Borna disease – named after the German city of Borna, which saw a cluster of cases over 100 years ago – mainly affects horses and sheep, and in rare cases cattle and rabbits too. A single case of an infected dog has been reported. Affected horses seclude themselves from the herd and suffer from depression and general disorientation. Ultimately, this incurable infection is fatal.

Borna virus detected in bicoloured shrews

Researchers have long been in the dark concerning the transmission mechanism of the Borna virus. The bicoloured shrew was one suspect, but definitive proof was missing. Norbert Nowotny and Jolanta Kolodziejek from the Institute of Virology and Herbert Weissenböck from the Institute of Pathology and Forensic Veterinary Medicine carried out a study on 107 shrews from the German region of Saxony-Anhalt together with a colleague from Germany. All the shrews were found dead, and 58 of them were bicoloured shrews, 14 of which carried the Borna virus. No Borna viruses were detected in the other shrew species.

Possible transmission mechanism

By examining tissue samples, it was discovered that the shrews carried significant amounts of virus in almost all their organs, including the mucosae of the oral cavity, the respiratory tract and the skin. This meant that dead skin scales from these animals might be infectious.
“We were surprised to discover significant amounts of viruses in the shrews’ skin. Usually, viruses are found deeper inside a transmitting organism and are excreted in urine and faeces. In horses, the virus first affects the olfactory brain area, so we assume that infection occurs via the respiratory tract rather than the digestive tract,” explains co-author and pathologist Weissenböck.

Shrews do not migrate

The bicoloured shrew (Crocidura leucodon) lives exclusively in Central Europe, the region where the Borna disease occurs. This area is mostly within Germany, but also includes the eastern part of Switzerland and Vorarlberg in western Austria. Virologist Nowotny explains: “The distribution of bicoloured shrews remains fairly constant because the animals stay within their habitats. They do not like to move around.” In fact, the number of incidents of Borna disease has actually declined in the last few years. There are currently about 100 cases per year.

Genetics reveals transmission mechanism

A genetic analysis of viruses taken from bicoloured shrews and horses provides further proof that the bicoloured shrew acts as a ‘pathogen reservoir’. The viral strains found in the shrews correspond exactly with the strains from sick horses in the same region. This supports the assumption that the virus sub-types develop in a particular region over the course of centuries in bicoloured shrews and do not generally spread beyond that area. These sub types can then be transmitted to horses.

Borna disease not contagious

The transmission mechanism of the Borna disease is remarkable in that the virus is not transmitted from one infected animal to another, so an intermediate host is needed – the bicoloured shrew. The disease is therefore not directly contagious. This is why it never affects whole herds, but individuals. “The best way to avoid transmission is to keep shrews away from the stables. Normal hygiene measures should be sufficient”, says study leader Nowotny.

The article “The bicolored white-toothed shrew Crocidura leucodon (HERMANN 1780) is an indigenous host of mammalian Borna disease virus” by Ralf Dürrwald, Jolanta Kolodziejek, Herbert Weissenböck and Norbert Nowotny was published on the 3rd of April in the Journal PLOS ONE. http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0093659

 
About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna

The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna is the only academic and research institution in Austria that focuses on the veterinary sciences. About 1,200 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact:
Prof. Herbert Weissenböck
Institute of Pathology and Forensic Veterinary Medicine
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 20577-2418
herbert.weissenboeck@vetmeduni.ac.at

Released by:
Heike Hochhauser
Public Relations
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1151
heike.hochhauser@vetmeduni.ac.at

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/infoservice/presseinformation/press-releases-2014/...

Heike Hochhauser | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Borna disease Medicine Pathology Sheep Veterinary Veterinary Medicine horses skin strains viruses

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>