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 A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>