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Forskningsartikel2017Vetenskapligt granskad

Tularaemia in European Brown Hares (Lepus europaeus) and Mountain Hares (Lepus timidus) Characterized by Histopathology and Immunohistochemistry: Organ Lesions and Suggestions of Routes of Infection and Shedding

Hestvik, G.; Uhlhorn, H.; Sodersten, F.; Akerstrom, S.; Karlsson, E.; Westergren, E.; Gavier-Widen, D.


Tularaemia is an emerging zoonotic infectious disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. In Sweden, hares are considered to be key species in the epidemiology of tularaemia. The aim of this study was to characterize the pathology of natural tularaemia infection in European brown hares (EBHs) (Lepus europaeus) and mountain hares (MHs) (Lepus timidus) in Sweden, in order to better understand the presentation of disease and the routes of infection, body dissemination and shedding of F. tularensis. During 2000-2013, 49 EBHs and 37 MHs were diagnosed with tularaemia. Enlargement of the spleen was seen in 80% of EBHs and 62% of MHs. Necrosis was often obvious in the bone marrow, liver, lung and spleen, but 30% of the hares had no lesions or minimal gross lesions. On microscopical examination of tissues from 27 EBHs and three MHs, necrosis was seen in the majority of samples of liver, spleen, bone marrow, lymph node and adrenal glands and was common in the lungs and brain meninges. Immunohistochemistry for Francisella spp. detected bacteria in association with necrosis and inflammation. In several cases, Francisella spp. were also found inside blood vessels, in the renal pelvis, in lactating mammary glands, in bronchioles and in the skin, associated with tick bites. Using quantitative polymerase chain reaction, two genotypes of F. tularensis subsp. holarctica were found; canSNP group B.6, all belonging to subgroup B.7, and canSNP group B.12. There were no differences in pathology between the genotypes. Our results indicate that the urinary tract and mammary glands are important routes for the shedding of F. tularensis. Hunters may not be aware of the risks of contracting tularaemia while handling hares, since infected hares do not always show noticeable gross lesions. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


European brown hare; Francisella tularensis; mountain hare; tularaemia

Publicerad i

Journal of Comparative Pathology
2017, Volym: 157, nummer: 2-3, sidor: 103-114