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Article

The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) as Sentinel for Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus in Endemic and Non-Endemic Areas

1
Institute of Animal Hygiene and Veterinary Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
2
German National Consultant Laboratory for TBEV, Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology, 80937 Munich, Germany
3
Parasitology Unit, Institute of Zoology, University of Hohenheim, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Microorganisms 2020, 8(11), 1817; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8111817
Received: 14 October 2020 / Revised: 13 November 2020 / Accepted: 15 November 2020 / Published: 18 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tick-Borne Encephalitis)
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is one of the most important viral zoonosis caused by a neurotropic arbovirus (TBEV). In Germany, TBE is classified as a notifiable disease with an average of 350 autochthonous human cases annually. The incidence-based risk assessment in Germany came under criticism because every year, a number of autochthonous human TBE cases have been detected outside of the official risk areas. Therefore, it is necessary to find additional parameters to strengthen TBEV surveillance. The aim of this study was to examine red foxes as sentinels for TBE. Thus far, there are no published data about the sensitivity and specificity for serological methods testing fox samples. Hence, we aimed to define a system for the screening of TBEV-specific antibodies in red foxes. A total of 1233 fox sera were collected and examined by ELISA and IIFA and confirmed by micro-NT. The overall seroprevalence of antibodies against TBEV in red foxes from Germany confirmed by micro-NT was 21.1%. The seroprevalence differed significantly between risk (30.5%) and non-risk areas (13.1%), with good correlations to local TBE incidence in humans. In conclusion, serological monitoring of red foxes represents a promising surrogate marker system and may even determine unexpected TBEV foci in regions currently regarded as non-risk areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: Flavivirus; ELISA; IIFA; micro-NT; seroprevalence; TBE; Europe Flavivirus; ELISA; IIFA; micro-NT; seroprevalence; TBE; Europe
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MDPI and ACS Style

Haut, M.; Girl, P.; Oswald, B.; Romig, T.; Obiegala, A.; Dobler, G.; Pfeffer, M. The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) as Sentinel for Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus in Endemic and Non-Endemic Areas. Microorganisms 2020, 8, 1817. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8111817

AMA Style

Haut M, Girl P, Oswald B, Romig T, Obiegala A, Dobler G, Pfeffer M. The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) as Sentinel for Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus in Endemic and Non-Endemic Areas. Microorganisms. 2020; 8(11):1817. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8111817

Chicago/Turabian Style

Haut, Maja, Philipp Girl, Beate Oswald, Thomas Romig, Anna Obiegala, Gerhard Dobler, and Martin Pfeffer. 2020. "The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) as Sentinel for Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus in Endemic and Non-Endemic Areas" Microorganisms 8, no. 11: 1817. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8111817

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