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Developing serological test which detects lungworm infections of seals


Project leader: Prof. Prof. h. c. Dr. Ursula Siebert, Prof. Dr. Christina Strube²
Scientific work: TÄ Arlena Ulrich
Scientific mentoring: Dr. Kristina Lehnert
Cooperation partner: ²Institut für Parasitologie, Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover

Project description

Young seals in the North and Baltic Sea are frequently infected by lung nematodes which can threaten their health tremendously. These parasites and secondary bacterial infections can lead to severe bronchopneumonia and death.

Lung nematodes are mostly diagnosed post mortem. Little is understood about the epidemiology and immunology of these infections. The aim of this study is to develop a serological test which detects lungworms in living seals and to monitor the antibody course during infections.

A recombinant antigen-based enzyme linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) to detect antibodies against lung nematodes in blood of living seals is currently being developed.

In comparison with fecal controls, the ELISA has a higher sensitivity and specificity. In addition, an ELISA is a method for individual diagnosis whereas feces samples are difficult to associate to individual seals.

An ELISA could be an effective tool to reveal epidemiological and immunological dynamics of infection and to advance health status surveillance of seals. It can give rehabilitation centers a decision basis for further treatment and may determine anthropogenic effects on the ecosystem.

The project is facilitated at the Institute for Parasitology in Hannover and at the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife in Büsum.



Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover
Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research
Werftstr. 6
25761 Büsum
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