Rapid diagnosis and quantification of Francisella tularensis in organs of naturally infected common squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus)

Abril, Carlos; Nimmervoll, Helena; Pilo, Paola; Brodard, Isabelle; Korczak, Bozena; Markus, Seiler; Miserez, Raymond; Frey, Joachim (2008). Rapid diagnosis and quantification of Francisella tularensis in organs of naturally infected common squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). Veterinary microbiology, 127(1-2), pp. 203-8. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.vetmic.2007.08.006

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Francisella tularensis, a small Gram-negative facultative intracellular bacterium, is the causative agent of tularaemia, a severe zoonotic disease transmitted to humans mostly by vectors such as ticks, flies and mosquitoes. The disease is endemic in many parts of the northern hemisphere. Among animals, the most affected species belong to rodents and lagomorphs, in particular hares. However, in the recent years, many cases of tularaemia among small monkeys in zoos were reported. We have developed a real-time PCR that allows to quantify F. tularensis in tissue samples. Using this method, we identified the spleen and the kidney as the most heavily infected organ containing up to 400 F. tularensis bacteria per simian host cell in two common squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) from a zoo that died of tularaemia. In other organs such as the brain, F. tularensis was detected at much lower titres. The strain that caused the infection was identified as F. tularensis subsp. holarctica biovar I, which is susceptible to erythromycin. The high number of F. tularensis present in soft organs such as spleen, liver and kidney represents a high risk for persons handling such carcasses and explains the transmission of the disease to a pathologist during post-mortem analysis. Herein, we show that real-time PCR allows a reliable and rapid diagnosis of F. tularensis directly from tissue samples of infected animals, which is crucial in order to attempt accurate prophylactic measures, especially in cases where humans or other animals have been exposed to this highly contagious pathogen.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Veterinary Bacteriology

UniBE Contributor:

Pilo, Paola, Brodard, Isabelle


600 Technology > 630 Agriculture








Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:54

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:16

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https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/22956 (FactScience: 37991)

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