Acta Vet. Brno 2020, 89: 69-78

Trypanosomes in Eastern and Central European bats

Petr Linhart1, Hana Banďouchová1, Jan Zukal2,3, Jan Votypka4,5, Tomasz Kokurewicz6, Heliana Dundarova7, Grzegorz Apoznanski6, Tomáš Heger1, Aneta Kubickova1, Monika Němcová1, Vladimír Piaček1, Jana Sedláčková1, Veronika Seidlová1, Hana Berkova2, Vladimír Hanzal8, Jiří Pikula1

1University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, Department of Ecology and Diseases of Zoo Animals, Game, Fish and Bees, Brno, Czech Republic
2Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Brno, Czech Republic
3Masaryk University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany and Zoology, Brno, Czech Republic
4Charles University, Faculty of Science, Department of Parasitology, Prague, Czech Republic
5Czech Academy of Sciences, Biology Centre, Institute of Parasitology, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
6Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Biology and Animal Science, Institute of Biology, Department of Vertebrate Ecology and Paleontology, Wrocław, Poland
7Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Sofia, Bulgaria
8Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic

Received October 28, 2019
Accepted January 28, 2020

Bats are presumed primary hosts of trypanosomes of the subgenus Schizotrypanum, including the human pathogen Trypanosoma cruzi. As such, research on bat trypanosomes has been focused on South America, where Chagas disease is a serious issue. While the majority of European studies have been performed in the United Kingdom, there is virtually no data available for Eastern and Central parts of Europe. To address this, the present study aims to identify and assess the prevalence and pathogenicity of trypanosomes in bats sampled in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Poland. Blood collected from 381 adult bats of eight species was tested for presence of trypanosomes using nested polymerase chain reactions. To assess possible impacts of trypanosome parasites on the health status of their hosts, haematological and biochemical analyses were performed for 56 greater mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis) emerging from hibernacula and 36 females of the same species from summer colonies. The overall prevalence of the two trypanosome species detected (T. dionisii and T. vespertilionis) was 27%, with a significantly higher prevalence in the Czech Republic compared to the other countries studied. Significant differences in bat trypanosome prevalence in different European countries appear to be connected with presence or absence of possible vectors in summer roosts. No impact of trypanosomes on haematology and blood chemistry parameters was detected in Trypanosoma-positive greater mouse-eared bats. Though T. dionisii infection in bats appears asymptomatic, long-term health consequences still need to be studied in greater detail.


We are grateful to Dr. Kevin Roche for correction and improvement of the English text. This study was supported by the Czech Science Foundation (Grant No. 17-20286S) and the Internal Grant Agency of the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno (Grant No. 230/2017/FVHE).


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