Molecular epidemiology of Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. suis in Austrian pig herds

Pneumocystis spp. are a group of highly diversified opportunistic fungi which are adapted to the lungs of a large variety of mammals. High numbers of Pneumocystis carriers have been described in rats and humans, but also in preliminary studies of pigs prevalences between 51% in pigs with pneumonia and 73% in pigs without respiratory disorders were observed. In humans, Pneumocystis colonization has several potentially important clinical effects as development of acute pneumonia, transmission to other hosts, or involvement in the progression of certain lung diseases as cofactor. As different age classes of pigs may be kept together in a single facility and thus share the same microbiological environment, these animals are predisposed to polymicrobially caused diseases and in modern pig production systems respiratory disorders pose one of the main health problems. Preliminary data have shown that Pneumocystis can essentially contribute to polymicrobially caused respiratory diseases and in case of infections especially of young pigs the economic impact can be quite high, because developmental deficits early in life can hardly be compensated for.

Currently, the genomic landscape of Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. suis (referred as Pneumocystis suis in this proposal) is almost completely unknown. Whole genome sequencing of Pneumocystis suis will reveal its genome content and structure, and metabolic and other biological pathways, and provide insights into its unique characteristics compared to other Pneumocystis species. This work will contribute to a better understanding of the disease process and pathogenesis of Pneumocystis pneumonia in pigs, and potentially guide the development of new strategies for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Studies of Pneumocystis jirovecii in humans have shown that fungal loads depend on the respective co-infections and as a matter of fact differ significantly between Pneumocystis jirovecii genotypes. Besides high-throughput sequencing we have planned to genotype Pneumocystis suis with single nucleotid polymorphism and multilocus sequence typing analyses. The examination of samples from different farms will provide an excellent opportunity to examine if different Pneumocystis suis genotypes exist and if they are associated with Pneumocystis suis organism loads, pig’s ages, clinical signs and co-infections and to study the Pneumocystis suis epidemiology in Austrian pig herds.

Project staff:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Herbert Weissenböck 1
Dr. Christiane Weissenbacher-Lang 2

Cooperation partners:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sipos, University Clinic for Swine, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna 3
Prof. Dr. Liang Ma, Critical Care Medicine Department, NIH Clinical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, USA 4
Dr. Ousmane Cissé, Critical Care Medicine Department, NIH Clinical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, USA 4

Project period: 09/2018 – 08/2021

Funding:
FWF - Austrian Science Fund 5

 

Neuroprotection after cardiac arrest

Using animal models (pig and rat) the effects of mild hypothermia on neuropathological changes after cardiac arrest and reperfusion are investigated. The optimal time point and the best method for induction of hypothermia should be determined.

Involved scientists:
Dr. Sandra Högler 6
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Peter Schmidt, Dipl.ECVP 7
Dr. Barbara Rebel-Bauder 8
Petra Kodajova 9

Cooperation partners:
Prof. Sterz, Dr. Wolfgang Weihs, Department für Notfallmedizin, Med.Uni.Vienna 10
Prof. Sipos, Klinik für Schweine, Vet.Med.Uni.Vienna 3
Catharina Duvigneau, Institut für Biochemie, Vetmeduni Vienna 11

Funding:
FWF - Austrian Science Fund 5
Hochschuljubiläumsstiftung der Stadt Wien 12
AKH 13

 

Pathology, pathogenesis and epidemiology of emerging infectious diseases

Dead animals submitted for necropsy are frequently the initial event for recognizing and follow-up investigations of emerging diseases (examples: Usutu virus and West Nile virus infections in Austria). In some cases the recognition of a novel condition will initiate surveillance programs which provide data on incidence, epidemiology and general relevance of such diseases.

Involved scientists:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Herbert Weissenböck, Dipl.ECPHM 14
Dr. Christiane Weissenbacher-Lang 2
Dr. Barbara Rebel-Bauder 8

Cooperation partners:
Virology, University of Veterinary Medicine 15
Department of Veterinary Microbiology, University of Budapest 16
Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Czech Academy of Sciences 17
Universitätsklinik  für Schweine 18
AGES 19

 

Malaria and related haemosporidioses in wild birds: Common but underestimated causes of avian mortality?

Malaria and related haemosporidioses in wild birds: Common but underestimated causes of avian mortality?

Avian haemosporidia are blood parasites of birds that are transmitted by arthropod vectors. Three genera are known to infect birds, Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon, each of them containing numerous species. They occur throughout the world - except in the circumpolar regions - and infect a large proportion of wild birds. It has long been assumed that coevolution of parasite and host has resulted in perfect adaptation that prevents the hosts from becoming sick. When birds from cold climates are transferred to warmer regions they become infected and frequently suffer from severe disease (avian malaria) or even die. There is increasing evidence that wild birds native to the distribution areas of the parasites more frequently develop severe disease and even die due to malaria than previously assumed.

We believe that avian haemosporidioses (including avian malaria) are grossly underestimated causes of severe diseases and mortalities in wild birds. There is a lack of comprehensive studies on wild bird mortalities and a lack of suitable methods for visualizing parasites of the different genera, subgenera and species of haemosporidians in samples of dead birds. We also believe that the variety of haemosporidian species with high virulence for certain species of wild as well as cage and aviary birds is wider than currently assumed. This is because the tissue stages of these parasites are morphologically similar and there are no tools that allow the exact identification of these parasites in tissue samples of dead birds, particularly in the case of mixed infections.

We plan to test these ideas by “visualizing ” defined genera and species of haemosporidia in tissue samples. This is intended with the aid of in situ hybridization using oligonucleotide probes against ribosomal RNA sequences. The sequences of the rRNA genes are largely unknown and need to be established by suitable amplification and sequencing strategies in unequivocal reference material.

Project staff:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Herbert Weissenböck, PI 20
Dr. Josef Harl, Postdoc 21
MMag. Tanja Himmel, PhD student 22

Cooperation partners:
Dr. Gediminas Valkiunas, Nature Research Centre, Vilnius, Litauen 23
A.o. Prof. Dr. Alexandra Scope, Clinical Unit of Medicine Small Animals, Med.Uni.Vienna 24
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Leonida Fusani, KLIVV, Med.Uni.Vienna 25


Project period:
03/2017 - 03/2020
 

Funding:
FWF - Austrian Science Fund 5

  

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How to find us 26


 

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