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Aelurostrongylus abstrusus in wild felids of South Africa

Di Cesare, Angela, Laiacona, Francesca, Iorio, Raffaella, Marangi, Marianna, Menegotto, Alessia
Parasitology research 2016 v.115 no.10 pp. 3731-3735
Aelurostrongylus, Caracal caracal, Felis, Panthera leo, cats, conservation areas, epidemiology, feces, geographical distribution, hosts, lungworms, parasitoses, wild animals, South Africa
The increasing interest on respiratory nematodes of domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) has recently stimulated several studies on their epidemiology and geographic distribution. At the same time, there are still important gaps in our knowledge of the infections caused by respiratory nematodes in wild felids. The present study investigated the occurrence of pulmonary parasites in wild hosts housed in sanctuaries and protected areas of South Africa. Faecal samples collected from seven species of wild felids living in three study sites were copromicroscopically and genetically examined. Of twenty-one samples six, i.e. three from caracals (Caracal caracal), two from lions (Panthera leo) and one from a serval (Leptailurus serval), scored positive for the metastrongyloid Aelurostrongylus abstrusus at copromicroscopic and/or molecular tests. No other lungworms were recorded. The occurrence of the cosmopolitan cat lungworm A. abstrusus in wild hosts has been so far questioned. Importantly, the present findings represent an unequivocal evidence of the capability of A. abstrusus to infect some species of wild felids. Further studies are warranted to understand the epidemiological patterns of lungworms in wild and domestic felids, and to better investigate the impact of these parasitoses on health and welfare of wild animals.