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 New Model of T Cell Activation
27.05.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Fungi – a promising source of chemical diversity
27.05.2016 | Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie - Hans-Knöll-Institut (HKI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Worldwide Success of Tyrolean Wastewater Treatment Technology

A biological and energy-efficient process, developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck, converts nitrogen compounds in wastewater treatment facilities into harmless atmospheric nitrogen gas. This innovative technology is now being refined and marketed jointly with the United States’ DC Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water). The largest DEMON®-system in a wastewater treatment plant is currently being built in Washington, DC.

The DEMON®-system was developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck 11 years ago. Today this successful technology has been implemented in about 70...

Im Focus: Computational high-throughput screening finds hard magnets containing less rare earth elements

Permanent magnets are very important for technologies of the future like electromobility and renewable energy, and rare earth elements (REE) are necessary for their manufacture. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, has now succeeded in identifying promising approaches and materials for new permanent magnets through use of an in-house simulation process based on high-throughput screening (HTS). The team was able to improve magnetic properties this way and at the same time replaced REE with elements that are less expensive and readily available. The results were published in the online technical journal “Scientific Reports”.

The starting point for IWM researchers Wolfgang Körner, Georg Krugel, and Christian Elsässer was a neodymium-iron-nitrogen compound based on a type of...

Im Focus: Atomic precision: technologies for the next-but-one generation of microchips

In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.

In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...

Im Focus: Researchers demonstrate size quantization of Dirac fermions in graphene

Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices

Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.

Im Focus: Graphene: A quantum of current

When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene

In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking 4.0: International Laser Technology Congress AKL’16 Shows New Ways of Cooperations

24.05.2016 | Event News

Challenges of rural labor markets

20.05.2016 | Event News

International expert meeting “Health Business Connect” in France

19.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

11 million Euros for research into magnetic field sensors for medical diagnostics

27.05.2016 | Awards Funding

Fungi – a promising source of chemical diversity

27.05.2016 | Life Sciences

New Model of T Cell Activation

27.05.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>