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Dott.ssa Rachele Vada



Ezio Ferroglio

Curriculum vitae

Curriculum Vitae

Phd thesis

1) Background

The concern towards shared pathogens at the wildlife-domestic animal interface has increased with the awareness of their impact on human, public health and economy (1). Global and local (glocal) factors (human management of the environment and land use, climatic changes) are remodelling the interactions among wildlife, domestic animals and people, intensifying pathogen transmission and reshaping diseases’ epidemiology (1).

This may affect several pathogens through different paths. Tick-borne zoonoses, together with their vectors, are changing their geographical distribution and prevalence in response to global warming and its consequences: disease cases are appearing where not present before (2,3).  The prevalence of several pathogens, Toxoplasma gondii among those, is increasing in response to human landscape modifications (4), while changes in wild species population dynamics (as the reintroduction of wolves in the alps) may impact related pathogens, as it is the case of Neospora caninum (5).

In this changing scenario, to manage diseases at a population level, good data quality is required. Thus, gathering reliable wildlife population data, from density to space use, is a crucial part not only for animal management, but also to complete information for epidemiological studies, thus improving risk assessment, disease control and prevention, remarking the benefits of an integrated wildlife monitoring to address the One Health concept (6,7).

2) Specific aims of the project and methods

The aim of this project is to integrate wildlife population information to the epidemiological study of pathogens that affect human or domestic animal health. In detail:

  • Implement the use of camera trap to gather data on wildlife population for epidemiological studies. The fine detail and reliability of data and estimations obtained with this technology are the principal innovation of the study.
  • Considering the overall environment (meaning the ecosystem, human facilities and management choices) as an important driver for wildlife presence and interactions with other wild species, domestic animals or humans, to explore the risk factors associated with the environment on pathogens prevalence.

In collaboration with the ENETWILD Consortium, a literature review will explore wildlife relevance in disease surveillance plans (paper submitted).

Study areas will cover different environments: alpine hunting district, peri-urban and Appennine natural park. The use of camera traps is a core aspect of the study, that will link the environment and wildlife. On one side, we will estimate ungulates densities, to obtain a reliable estimation for epidemiological and risk analysis considerations. On the other, we will correlate the temporal occupancy of wildlife to the questing tick abundance in front of the same camera trap (Figure 1). These environmental ticks will be tested for Piroplasmids, Anaplasma spp., Rickettsia SFG and Borrelia spp. by biomolecular analysis. Likewise, samples from hunted or culled ungulates will be tested for the same tick-borne pathogens, T. gondii and N. caninum, to correlate their prevalence with environmental risk factors.

Statistical analysis will consider descriptive statistics, regression models and path analysis.



  1. Gortázar C, Ferroglio E, Höfle U, Frölich K, Vicente J. Diseases shared between wildlife and livestock: a European perspective. Eur J Wildl Res. 2007;53(4):241–56.
  2. Martello E, Mannelli A, Ragagli C, Ambrogi C, Selmi M, Ceballos LA, et al. Range expansion of Ixodes ricinus to higher altitude, and co-infestation of small rodents with Dermacentor marginatus in the Northern Apennines, Italy. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2014;5(6):970–4.
  3. Jongejan F, Ringenier M, Putting M, Berger L, Burgers S, Kortekaas R, et al. Novel foci of Dermacentor reticulatus ticks infected with Babesia canis and Babesia caballi in the Netherlands and in Belgium. Parasit Vectors. 2015;8(1):1–10.
  4. Brearley G, Rhodes J, Bradley A, Baxter G, Seabrook L, Lunney D, et al. Wildlife disease prevalence in human‐modified landscapes. Biol Rev. 2013;88(2):427–42.
  5. Sobrino R, Dubey JP, Pabón M, Linarez N, Kwok OC, Millán J, et al. Neospora caninum antibodies in wild carnivores from Spain. Vet Parasitol. 2008;155(3–4):190–7.
  6. ENETWILD‐consortium, Pascual R, Acevedo P, Apollonio M, Blanco‐Aguiar JA, Body G, et al. Report of the 2nd Annual General Meeting of ENETWILD 5‐6th October 2021. EFSA Support Publ. 2021;18(12):7053E.
  7. Cardoso B, García-Bocanegra I, Acevedo P, Cáceres G, Alves PC, Gortázar C. Stepping up from wildlife disease surveillance to integrated wildlife monitoring in Europe. Res Vet Sci. 2021;
  8. Rowcliffe JM, Field J, Turvey ST, Carbone C. Estimating animal density using camera traps without the need for individual recognition. J Appl Ecol. 2008;1228–36.
  9. Battisti E, Zanet S, Khalili S, Trisciuoglio A, Hertel B, Ferroglio E. Molecular Survey on Vector-Borne Pathogens in Alpine Wild Carnivorans. Front Vet Sci. 2020;7(January):1–9.
  10. Zanet S, Trisciuoglio A, Bottero E, De Mera IGF, Gortazar C, Carpignano MG, et al. Piroplasmosis in wildlife: Babesia and Theileria affecting free-ranging ungulates and carnivores in the Italian Alps. Parasit Vectors. 2014;7(1):1–7.
Last update: 19/10/2022 11:55

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