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Survey on parasitic infections in wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris Schreber, 1777) by scat collection

Napoli, Ettore, Anile, Stefano, Arrabito, Carmelo, Scornavacca, Davide, Mazzamuto, Maria Vittoria, Gaglio, Gabriella, Otranto, Domenico, Giannetto, Salvatore, Brianti, Emanuele
Parasitology research 2016 v.115 no.1 pp. 255-261
Acanthocephala, Ancylostoma, Felis, Isospora, Physaloptera, Protozoa, Toxocara cati, Trematoda, animals, eggs, experimental design, fauna, feces, larvae, necropsy, oocysts, parasitoses, species diversity, surveys, tapeworms, Africa, Asia, Italy, Sicily
Wildcats are endangered felid species living in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Regrettably, scientific information on parasites of wildcats is particularly meager and they often rely on data gained by necropsies of a small number of animals. In the present study, scat collection was used to assess the parasite spectrum of European wildcats living in the Etna Park (Sicily, Italy). Scat collection was performed from May to September 2010 by weekly walking four transects for a total of 391 km. Samples were then analyzed by flotation and sedimentation techniques to investigate wildcat parasitic fauna. A total of 121 scats of wildcats were collected, and parasitic forms (i.e., oocysts, eggs, and larvae) were retrieved in 110 (90.9 %) of the samples. Parasites found were Physaloptera sp. (52.1 %), tapeworms (45.5 %), Toxocara cati (43.8 %), Eucoleus aerophilus (27.3 %), Ancylostoma sp. (22.3 %), Troglostrongylus brevior (15.7 %), trematodes (9.9 %), Isospora felis (4.1 %), Cylicospirura sp. (1.7 %), and Acanthocephala (0.8 %). The prevalence of endoparasitic infections herein recorded is similar to that described in other studies conducted using necropsy technique. The species richness of parasites found in the present survey, with a total of nine helminths and one protozoon, is the highest ever reported for wildcat in Europe. Scat collection and examination are reliable and rapid non-invasive tools which can be used in a systematic survey design to study the parasite spectrum of wildcat as well as that of other endangered wild species.