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Polar Biology

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 755–762 | Cite as

A serosurvey for Trichinella in Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) in Svalbard

  • Kjetil Åsbakk
  • Torill Mørk
  • Eva Fuglei
Original Paper

Abstract

After infection with Trichinella spp. was first demonstrated in the arctic fox population in Svalbard 30 years ago, there have been changes in the Svalbard ecosystem related to abundance of polar bear and walrus, both reservoir species for Trichinella. In order to update the assessment of the infection rate and search for differences between sex, age, trapping season and location of trapping sites, we examined arctic foxes from Svalbard in 1996–2004 (n = 429) for antibodies against Trichinella spp. For support and muscle larvae (ML) identification, the diaphragm of a subsample of 330 of the foxes, 40 foxes from 2007 to 2008, and a polar bear (Ursus maritimus) tongue sample, were examined for ML by an HCl–pepsin digestion method. The antibody assay (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, ELISA) demonstrated a seroprevalence of 11.7 %. The prevalence increased with age, was similar in females and males, and body condition was similar in seropositives and seronegatives. There were differences in prevalence between trapping seasons and sites. A previously reported spatial (north–south) difference appeared to be eliminated. The seroprevalence was significantly higher in males (50.0 %) than females (20.0 %) of age 4 years and older. An ML prevalence of 6.7 % was demonstrated for the foxes. This was probably an underestimate due to small sample weights. ML were found also in the polar bear. Multiplex PCR identified eleven ML isolates, ten from the arctic foxes and the polar bear isolate, as Trichinella nativa.

Keywords

Trichinella Vulpes lagopus Arctic fox Svalbard ELISA 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Kirsti Rønne, Eva Marie Breines and Ellinor Hareide for technical assistance, and to Oddveig Øien Ørvoll, Norwegian Polar Institute, for graphic assistance. Thanks to the trappers on Svalbard, specifically Harald A. Solheim at Kapp Wijk, and to the Governor of Svalbard for samples from the annual arctic fox trapping. The valuable help by prof. Edoardo Pozio and other staff at the European Union Reference Laboratory for Parasites in Rome is highly appreciated. The work was supported by grants from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Research Council of Norway.

Conflict of interest

None of the authors have any financial or personal relationships with other people or organizations that could inappropriately influence (bias) this work.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Arctic and Marine BiologyThe Arctic University of Norway – UiTLangnes, TromsøNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian Veterinary Institute, North NorwayTromsøNorway
  3. 3.Norwegian Polar InstituteTromsøNorway

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