Francisella tularensis in Swedish predators and scavengers

G. Hestvik*, H. Uhlhorn, M. Koene, S. Åkerström, A. Malmsten, F. Dahl, P.A. Åhlén, A.M. Dalin, D. Gavier-Widén

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Tularaemia is a zoonotic disease, in Europe caused by Francisella tularensis subsp. holarctica. Many lagomorphs and a variety of small rodents are wildlife species prone to develop clinical disease, while predators and scavengers are relatively resistant and may serve as sentinels. Blood samples from 656 Swedish wild predators and scavengers were serologically investigated using slide agglutination and microagglutination. In the slide agglutination test, 34 seropositive animals were detected, and they were found among all species investigated: brown bear (Ursus arctos), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), wild boar (Sus scrofa), wolf (Canis lupus) and wolverine (Gulo gulo). Due to haemolysis the microagglutination test was more difficult to read at low titres, and only 12 animals were classified as seropositive. F. tularensis subsp. holarctica was detected by a polymerase chain reaction in lymphatic tissues of the head in one brown bear, one red fox and one wolf. The significance of this finding regarding possible latency of infection is not clear. In conclusion, the results of this study indicate that all predator and scavenger species included in this study may serve as sentinels for tularaemia in Sweden. Their role as reservoirs is unclear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e293
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2019


  • Agglutination
  • predator
  • serology
  • tularaemia
  • wildlife


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