• Assessing bat droppings and predatory bird pellets for vector-borne bacteria: molecular evidence of bat-associated Neorickettsia sp. in Europe.

      Hornok, Sándor; Szőke, Krisztina; Estók, Péter; Krawczyk, Aleksandra; Haarsma, Anne-Jifke; Kováts, Dávid; Boldogh, Sándor A; Morandini, Pál; Szekeres, Sándor; Takács, Nóra; et al. (2018-02-28)
      In Europe, several species of bats, owls and kestrels exemplify highly urbanised, flying vertebrates, which may get close to humans or domestic animals. Bat droppings and bird pellets may have epidemiological, as well as diagnostic significance from the point of view of pathogens. In this work 221 bat faecal and 118 bird pellet samples were screened for a broad range of vector-borne bacteria using PCR-based methods. Rickettsia DNA was detected in 13 bat faecal DNA extracts, including the sequence of a rickettsial insect endosymbiont, a novel Rickettsia genotype and Rickettsia helvetica. Faecal samples of the pond bat (Myotis dasycneme) were positive for a Neorickettsia sp. and for haemoplasmas of the haemofelis group. In addition, two bird pellets (collected from a Long-eared Owl, Asio otus, and from a Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus) contained the DNA of a Rickettsia sp. and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, respectively. In both of these bird pellets the bones of Microtus arvalis were identified. All samples were negative for Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., Francisella tularensis, Coxiella burnetii and Chlamydiales. In conclusion, bats were shown to pass rickettsia and haemoplasma DNA in their faeces. Molecular evidence is provided for the presence of Neorickettsia sp. in bat faeces in Europe. In the evaluated regions bat faeces and owl/kestrel pellets do not appear to pose epidemiological risk from the point of view of F. tularensis, C. burnetii and Chlamydiales. Testing of bird pellets may provide an alternative approach to trapping for assessing the local occurrence of vector-borne bacteria in small mammals.