Moose, Alces alces (Artiodactyla: Cervidae) in Finland are heavily infested with deer keds, Lipoptena cervi (Diptera: Hippoboschidae). The deer ked, which carries species of the genus Bartonella, has been proposed as a vector for the transmission of bartonellae to animals and humans. Previously, bartonella DNA was found in deer keds as well as in moose blood collected in Finland. We investigated the prevalence and molecular diversity of Bartonella spp. infection from blood samples collected from free-ranging moose. Given that the deer ked is not present in northernmost Finland, we also investigated whether there were geographic differences in the prevalence of bartonella infection in moose. The overall prevalence of bartonella infection was 72.9% (108/148). Geographically, the prevalence was highest in the south (90.6%) and lowest in the north (55.9%). At least two species of bartonellae were identified by multilocus sequence analysis. Based on logistic regression analysis, there was no significant association between bartonella infection and either age or sex; however, moose from outside the deer ked zone were significantly less likely to be infected (P<0.015) than were moose hunted within the deer ked zone.
Vol. 52 • No. 2