Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus antibody prevalence in Mauritanian livestock (cattle, goats, sheep and camels) is stratified by the animal’s age
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) is one of the most widespread zoonotic arthropod-borne viruses in many parts of Africa, Europe and Asia. It belongs to the family of Nairoviridae in the genus of Orthonairovirus. The main reservoir and vector are ticks of the genus Hyalomma. Livestock animals (such as cattle, small ruminants and camels) develop a viremias lasting up to two weeks with absence of clinical symptoms, followed by seroconversion. This study was carried out to assess risk factors that affect seroprevalence rates in different species. In total, 928 livestock animal samples (cattle = 201; sheep = 247; goats = 233; camels = 247) from 11 out of 13 regions in Mauritania were assayed for CCHFV-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) (including a novel indirect camel-IgG-specific CCHFV ELISA). Inconclusive results were resolved by an immunofluorescence assay (IFA). A generalized linear mixed-effects model (GLMM) was used to draw conclusions about the impact of certain factors (age, species, sex and region) which might have influenced the CCHFV antibody status of surveyed animals. In goats and sheep, about 15% of the animals were seropositive, whereas in cattle (69%) and camels (81%), the prevalence rate was significantly higher. On average, cattle and camels were up to twice to four times older than small ruminants. Interestingly, the seroprevalence in all species was directly linked to the age of the animals, i.e. older animals had significantly higher seroprevalence rates than younger animals. The highest CCHFV seroprevalence in Mauritania was found in camels and cattle, followed by small ruminants. The large proportion of positive animals in cattle and camels might be explained by the high ages of the animals. Future CCHFV prevalence studies should at least consider the age of surveyed animals in order to avoid misinterpretations.