Year of grant:
Kanning av útbreiðslu av skógarmottum í norðuratlantsøkinum (NATS)
Shahin Gaini, Sigurður Skarpheðinsson, Per Moestrup Jensen, Eyðfinn Magnussen,
Grant from the FRC in DKK:
Overall the aim is to develop a longitudinal surveillance system including Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. This could possibly monitor in a prospective way the panorama of vector borne diseases in the Faroe Islands – Iceland – Greenland, in a context of climate changes and moving borderlines regarding vector presence. The aim is also to use this surveillance to research in the dynamics of vector borne pathogens. So we get a better understanding of the dynamics of vector borne pathogens.
One of the present´s big public health challenges are diseases that spread by the aid of vectors e.g. mosquitos and ticks. The main reason why vector borne diseases are spreading to new areas are changes in land use and climate change. These changes in some ways increase the vectors possibilities to spread – making the habitat livelier to the vectors. In this way vector carried diseases are carried to new areas. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that increased distribution of vector borne diseases is one of the major consequences of climate change. Infections that are carried with ticks, are the most common vector borne diseases in Europe. It is especially the species often known as deer tick Ixodes ricinus, wich functions as vector in Europe. The Faroese name of I. ricinus is ”skógarmotta”, which means forest tick.
The vector (I. ricinus) has been registered further and further to the north. This is closely correlated with climate change. There is probability of I. ricinus changing its state from sporadic (introduced occasionally) to endemic (populations in places) in these countries. Since establishment of vector I. ricinus and the pathogens it carries is a complicated matter, because the interaction between vector I. ricinus, pathogens like Borrelia and different host (different vertebrates) are many-sided. E.g. survival of the different Borrelia strains differ among hosts. Peripheral areas like the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland have a reduced host-possibilities compared to mainland Europe. The reduced number of hosts offers a unique possibility for monitoring, giving insight and understanding of the many and diverse mechanism, that are applicable when a new vector borne infectious disease is introduced.
The study has 3 parts – work packages 1-3 (Wp 1, Wp 2 and Wp 3)
The principal aims of the present study - in 2017 Wp 1 - is to establish basic knowledge about the present distribution and presence of Ixodes ricinus, and of associated pathogens. The pathogens are: Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi ss, B. garinii, B. afzelli, B. valaisianna, B. spielmannii, B. bavariensis, B. myamotoii), Anaplasma, phagocytophilum, candidatus neoehrlichia mikurensis, Rickettsia helvetica, Bartonella and flavivirus (TBE og Louping ill virus).
Also in 2017 we will be working with wp 2 by collecting blood samples from hares and sheep. Based on the findings in 2017 Wp 2 and Wp 3 will be further developed
The second wp (Wp 2) is a sentinel investigation where animals (sheep’s, dogs, cats and hares) most likely to encounter I. ricinus will be investigated for pathogens. The investigation will look for the following: Borrelia, Anaplasma, Bartonella, TBE, Anaplasma and Rickettsia. I October 2016 we already sampled blood from 50 hares (Lepus timidus). The sampled blood is frozen at minus 80 degrees Celsius. We are planning to sample blood from sheep in October 2017.
The third wp (Wp 3) is to investigate persons whose activities put them in a situation that makes them susceptible to being bitten by ticks, like gardeners, shepherds and hare hunters. These persons are to be tested for Borrelia, Anaplasma, Bartonella and TBE.
This project is part of a Nordic study. The present project will establish links with international colleagues and provide an opening for further research on factors affecting the distribution of the Faroese fauna. It is hoped that this project will form the basis for a future PhD project.