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Freie Universität Berlin (2018)

Equid herpesvirus infections in zebras (Equus sp.) : host physiology and non-invasive detection of virus shedding

Seeber, Peter Andreas

Titre : Equid herpesvirus infections in zebras (Equus sp.) : host physiology and non-invasive detection of virus shedding

Equine herpesvirusinfektionen in Zebras (Equus sp.) : Wirtphysiologie und non-invasiver Nachweise der Virusausscheidung

Auteur : Seeber, Peter Andreas

Université de soutenance : Freie Universität Berlin

Grade : Doctor rerum naturalium (Dr. rer. nat.) 2018

Résumé partiel
The equid herpesviruses (EHV) are highly prevalent pathogens in all global equid populations, with infection prevalence rates of up to 100%. They are responsible for considerable economic losses in the equine industry, and can also readily adapt to infecting new (non-equid) host species. In these novel hosts, EHV infections are typically more severe than in equids and often fatal. Herpesviruses typically remain in their hosts as a latent, lifelong infection in the host’s neural tissue and lymphoid cells and can reactivate during times of acute stress or reduced immunocompetence. So far, the triggers causing EHV reactivation in equids are not comprehensively understood. Following viral recrudescence and viraemia, EHVs are typically shed in nasal discharge and transmitted via a naso-nasal infection route. Therefore, EHV monitoring in wildlife has mostly been performed employing invasive methods, including capture and immobilization. These approaches, however, involve various risks for the target animal and for the people involved in the procedures. Furthermore, due to intense time and financial effort, invasive measures are usually limited to very few individuals. In contrast, non-invasive sampling relies on collecting sample material which is shed from the target organism into its environment, thereby circumventing the need for direct contact with the animal. In chapter 2 I established a non-invasive, indirect sampling method to collect nasal discharge and saliva of captive zebras. This method was tested on three different zebra species, and I successful isolated DNA of sporadically reactivated EHVs as well as host DNA from an enrichment toy which was provided to the study animals for certain periods of time. A similar approach might be tested on wild equids in their natural habitats to facilitate non-invasive EHV screening in situ with a time- and cost-efficient approach. In chapter 3 I used non-invasive sampling methods to screen EHV shedding in captive zebras in order to investigate the effect of presumed environmental stressors on the probability of EHV reactivation and transmission. In addition, I measured faecal glucocorticoid metabolite (fGCM) concentrations to assess a potential physiological stress response to a translocation event and subsequent social group re-structuring. Both fGCM concentrations and EHV shedding frequencies increased significantly after the translocation event and group re-structuring, compared to control periods, in the 108 translocated and in the non-translocated animals

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