[Investigation of the presence of Francisella tularensis by culture, serology and molecular methods in mice of Thrace Region, Turkey]

Mikrobiyol Bul. 2014 Apr;48(2):213-22. doi: 10.5578/mb.7028.
[Article in Turkish]


Tularemia is a disease that has been reported in Turkey since 1936. Although mice are considered to have a role in the transmission of Francisella tularensis to man, this has not been exactly confirmed yet. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of F. tularensis in mice by using culture, serology and molecular methods. For this purpose, four villages (Edirne-Demirkoy, Kirklareli-Kaynarca, Tekirdag-Muzruplu, Tekirdag-Sinanli) were selected in Thrace Region of Turkey where tularemia cases had been reported previously. A total of 126 live-catch mouse traps were established in warehouses, barns, areas near wells, water tanks and creeks in the villages in December 2012. Traps were kept overnight and the next day the animals collected were identified at species-level. The live-captured mice were anesthetized and their heart blood samples were obtained. Subsequently, liver and spleen tissues were removed from every mouse under aseptic conditions in the class-2 safety cabinet. These tissues were cultivated in Francis medium containing 5% sheep blood, 0.1% cystein, 1% glucose and incubated for seven days in both normal atmosphere and 5% carbondioxide incubator at 37°C. Tularemia microagglutination test was performed by using the sera which were obtained from live-captured mice. Finally, DNAs were isolated from both liver and spleen tissues of mice, and real-time polymerase chain reaction (Tularemia RT-PCR; Public Health Agency of Turkey, Ankara) were performed. In our study, a total of 19 mice were captured and of these 11 were alive. Ten mice were identified as Apodemus flavicollis, seven were Mus macedonicus and two were Mus musculus. There were no Francisella tularensis isolation in the cultures of mice liver and spleen tissues. Serological tests yielded negative results for 10 mice whose serum samples could be obtained. In RT-PCR, positivity were detected in spleen tissues of two mice which were captured from Kaynarca where first tularemia cases in Turkey in 1936 were reported but has no report from then on. One of them was a live female Mus macedonicus, and the other was a dead male Apodemus flavicollis. In quantitative evaluation, number of microorganism per organ were calculated as 4 x 103 cfu/spleen in Mus macedonicus and 4 x 104 cfu/spleen in Apodemus flavicollis. This is the first study in Turkey indicating that the mice in natural environment harbored F.tularensis. In conclusion, the results of this study indicated that the agent of tularemia has been retained since 1936 in Kaynarca region and this persistence might present a potential risk for tularemia epidemics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Reservoirs
  • Female
  • Francisella tularensis / genetics
  • Francisella tularensis / immunology
  • Francisella tularensis / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Liver / microbiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Murinae*
  • Risk Factors
  • Rodent Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Rodent Diseases / microbiology
  • Rodent Diseases / transmission
  • Spleen / microbiology
  • Tularemia / epidemiology*
  • Tularemia / transmission
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Zoonoses* / epidemiology
  • Zoonoses* / microbiology
  • Zoonoses* / transmission