Infectious Diseases in Animals: Community Ecology and Pathogen Dynamics

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Veterinary Clinical Studies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 8980

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since the beginning of time, animal pathogens have circulated worldwide, with many causing severe disease and death. Many of these diseases are known to be transmitted between animal species and between animals and humans, of which smallpox is a good example, having evolved from pathogens circulating in wildlife. Ecological changes can drive evolution and change the complex interplay between hosts–environment–pathogens, ultimately favoring transmission. A good example can be seen in the El Niño events of the 1990s that led to the emergence of human hantavirus cases in the US through an ecological cascade. Increased precipitation led to a growth in vegetation, which sustained increased populations of rodents, facilitating hantavirus transmission between rodents and from rodents to humans. These ecological changes can apply to the dynamics of pathogens within individual hosts, where pathogens evolve in a complex interaction with other microbes within a host. Hence, molecular factors and modes of transmission can determine the dissemination of a pathogen with diverse impacts on animal populations.

This Special Issue plans to collect the most recent advances in animal infectious disease epidemiology. Original research articles and comprehensive reviews that cover community ecology and pathogen dynamics, including molecular aspects, transmission, infection, and pathology, are welcome in this Special Issue.

Dr. João R. Mesquita
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Editorial

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2 pages, 178 KiB  
Editorial
Understanding the Role of Community Ecology and Pathogen Dynamics in Infectious Diseases in Animals
by João R. Mesquita
Animals 2023, 13(3), 536; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13030536 - 02 Feb 2023
Viewed by 988
Abstract
Since the beginning of ages, pathogens have circulated worldwide, with many causing significant morbidity and mortality in humans [...] Full article

Research

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10 pages, 1334 KiB  
Article
A Thorny Tale of Parasites: Screening for Enteric Protozoan Parasites in Hedgehogs from Portugal
by Sara Gomes-Gonçalves, Sérgio Santos-Silva, Andreia V. S. Cruz, Clarisse Rodrigues, Vanessa Soeiro, Patrícia Barradas and João R. Mesquita
Animals 2024, 14(2), 326; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14020326 - 21 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 804
Abstract
Enteric protozoan parasites, such as Blastocystis sp., Balantioides coli, Cryptosporidium spp., and Giardia duodenalis, may have implications for both animal and human health.Transmitted through the fecal–oral route, these parasites cause symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss. This study [...] Read more.
Enteric protozoan parasites, such as Blastocystis sp., Balantioides coli, Cryptosporidium spp., and Giardia duodenalis, may have implications for both animal and human health.Transmitted through the fecal–oral route, these parasites cause symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss. This study investigated the presence of these enteric protozoan parasites and genetically characterized them in hedgehogs from Portugal. A total of 110 hedgehog stool samples were collected. Molecular detection methods showed an overall occurrence of protozoa in 1.82% (2/110 95% CI: 0.22–6.41) of hedgehogs, with Blastocystis being found in one hedgehog and Cryptosporidium being found in another. No evidence for the presence of B. coli or G. duodenalis was found. This study suggests that there is a need to stay aware of hedgehogs as potential hosts of enteric protozoa. Ongoing research and surveillance efforts are recommended to explore practical prevention and control strategies. The results contribute to the limited knowledge of these parasites in Portuguese hedgehog populations and underscore their potential relevance to both veterinary and public health. Full article
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14 pages, 2038 KiB  
Article
A Survey on Vaccination and Disease Occurrence in Municipal and Non-Profit Animal Shelters in Portugal
by Sara Marques, Eduarda Gomes-Neves, Cláudia S. Baptista, Francisca R. Pereira, Adélia Alves-Pereira, Pedro Osório and Alexandra Müller
Animals 2023, 13(17), 2723; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13172723 - 27 Aug 2023
Viewed by 961
Abstract
Few studies are available describing animal shelters in Portugal. The aim was to characterize prophylactic measures and disease occurrence in shelters with a questionnaire. The response rates of 67 shelters (42 municipal shelters, 25 associations) were compared by the Fisher’s exact test. More [...] Read more.
Few studies are available describing animal shelters in Portugal. The aim was to characterize prophylactic measures and disease occurrence in shelters with a questionnaire. The response rates of 67 shelters (42 municipal shelters, 25 associations) were compared by the Fisher’s exact test. More veterinarians answered for municipal shelters (98%) than for associations (40%; p < 0.001). Over 80% of the respondents indicated using individual medical records and routine prophylaxis. Excessive length of stay for dogs was reported by 54% of associations and 33% of municipal shelters. Management tools should be promoted to improve the situation. Puppy vaccinations were similar and a final vaccination at 16 weeks was indicated by >33% of shelters. Annual revaccination of dogs was reported more frequently by associations (88%) than municipal shelters (55%; p = 0.02). The three most reported diseases were parvovirus and mange in dogs, upper respiratory disease and panleukopenia in cats, and dermatophytosis in both species. Similar response rates for diagnostic options were obtained by both shelter types, except for distemper. Testing for feline retroviruses was indicated by most shelters (>69%), but only a few (<24%) confirmed positive test results. Clinical diagnoses should be complemented by testing. Additional information on disease occurrence should be obtained by objective monitoring. Full article
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9 pages, 305 KiB  
Article
Leishmania Seroprevalence in Dogs: Comparing Shelter and Domestic Communities
by Paulo Afonso, Ana Cláudia Coelho, Hélder Quintas and Luís Cardoso
Animals 2023, 13(14), 2352; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13142352 - 19 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1310
Abstract
Canine leishmaniosis (CanL) is a chronic, systemic, and often severe disease. The main causative agent of CanL is a protozoan parasite, Leishmania infantum, with phlebotomine sand flies acting as vectors. In Europe and other continents, L. infantum is also responsible for leishmaniosis [...] Read more.
Canine leishmaniosis (CanL) is a chronic, systemic, and often severe disease. The main causative agent of CanL is a protozoan parasite, Leishmania infantum, with phlebotomine sand flies acting as vectors. In Europe and other continents, L. infantum is also responsible for leishmaniosis in other animals, such as cats, horses, and humans. In Portugal, animal and human leishmaniosis is endemic, and high prevalence levels of infections and disease have been reported in dogs. There is a prejudice against stray animals and also those housed in shelters, assuming they have higher levels of infection with vector-borne pathogens, including L. infantum, when compared to domestic animals. In northeastern Portugal, serum samples were obtained from March to May 2022 in three shelters (n = 179) and thirteen veterinary clinics (n = 164), resulting in 343 dogs being analyzed for antibodies to Leishmania spp. by the direct agglutination test (DAT). The overall seroprevalence was 9.9%, with 15.2% seroprevalence in domestic dogs and 5.0% in the shelter ones (p = 0.003). The fact that shelter dogs had a lower seroprevalence could be explained by more regular veterinary care provided in shelters regarding preventive measures, including insecticides with an antifeeding effect, in comparison with domestic dogs. Full article

Review

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18 pages, 1161 KiB  
Review
The Impact of Human Activities on Zoonotic Infection Transmissions
by Michelle Marie Esposito, Sara Turku, Leora Lehrfield and Ayat Shoman
Animals 2023, 13(10), 1646; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13101646 - 15 May 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4097
Abstract
As humans expand their territories across more and more regions of the planet, activities such as deforestation, urbanization, tourism, wildlife exploitation, and climate change can have drastic consequences for animal movements and animal–human interactions. These events, especially climate change, can also affect the [...] Read more.
As humans expand their territories across more and more regions of the planet, activities such as deforestation, urbanization, tourism, wildlife exploitation, and climate change can have drastic consequences for animal movements and animal–human interactions. These events, especially climate change, can also affect the arthropod vectors that are associated with the animals in these scenarios. As the COVID-19 pandemic and other various significant outbreaks throughout the centuries have demonstrated, when animal patterns and human interactions change, so does the exposure of humans to zoonotic pathogens potentially carried by wildlife. With approximately 60% of emerging human pathogens and around 75% of all emerging infectious diseases being categorized as zoonotic, it is of great importance to examine the impact of human activities on the prevalence and transmission of these infectious agents. A better understanding of the impact of human-related factors on zoonotic disease transmission and prevalence can help drive the preventative measures and containment policies necessary to improve public health. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Leishmania seroprevalence in dogs: comparing shelter and domestic communities
Authors: Paulo Afonso; Ana Cláudia Coelho; Hélder Quintas; Luís Cardoso
Affiliation: CECAV – Animal and Veterinary Research Centre, University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), Vila Real, Portugal
Abstract: Canine leishmaniosis (CanL) is a chronic, systemic and often severe disease. The main causative agent of CanL is a protozoan parasite, Leishmania infantum, with phlebotomine sand flies acting as vectors. In Europe and other continents, L. infantum is also responsible for leishmaniosis in other animals, such as cats, horses and humans. In Portugal, animal and human leishmanioses are endemic, and high prevalence levels of infection and disease have been reported in dogs. There is a prejudice against stray animals and also those housed in shelters, assuming they have higher levels of infection with vector-borne pathogens, including L. infantum, when compared to domestic animals. In north-eastern Portugal, serum samples were obtained from March to May 2022 in three shelters (n = 179) and 13 veterinary clinics (n = 164), resulting in 343 dogs being analysed for antibodies to Leishmania spp. by the direct agglutination test (DAT). The overall seroprevalence was 9.9%, with 15.2% seroprevalence in domestic dogs and 5.0% in the shelter ones (p = 0.003). The fact that shelter dogs had a lower seroprevalence could be explained by more regular veterinary care provided in shelters regarding preventive measures, including insecticides with an antifeeding effect, in comparison with domestic dogs.

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