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An outbreak of philophthalmosis in Larus michahellis and Larus fuscus gulls in Iberian Peninsula

Heneberg, Petr, Casero, María, Waap, Helga, Sitko, Jiljí, Azevedo, Fábia, Těšínský, Miroslav, Literák, Ivan
Parasitology international 2018 v.67 no.2 pp. 253-261
Larus fuscus, Philophthalmus, birds, freshwater, intermediate hosts, lacrimal apparatus, mammals, parasites, snails, Iberian Peninsula, Portugal
Trematodes of the genus Philophthalmus Loos, 1899 are the eye parasites of birds and mammals, which use freshwater snails as their first intermediate hosts. Here we examined the presence of philophthalmids in a total of 1515 gulls (589 Larus fuscus and 926 Larus michahellis) admitted between January 2010 and October 2016 for rehabilitation at Olhão (Portugal), by the use of combined morphological and molecular analysis. We recorded the first infected L. fuscus and L. michahellis in July and November 2015, respectively. The philophthalmids were located in the conjunctival sac or under the nictitating membrane. Gulls infected with Philophthalmus lucipetus Rudolphi, 1819 presented no clinical signs, while those infected with Philophthalmus lacrymosus Braun, 1902 presented serious eye damage in the same host species. The prevalence of P. lucipetus reached 3.6% in L. fuscus and 0.8% in L. michahellis; the prevalence of P. lacrymosus reached 0.3% and 0.0%, respectively. The outbreak of P. lucipetus likely started in a narrowly defined area, since the first six cases, found between July and October 2015, originated from a single municipality, and only later more cases started to be retrieved from other municipalities of Portugal. These findings represent the first records of both philophthalmids in the Iberian Peninsula, their first records in L. michahellis and the first record of P. lacrymosus in L. fuscus. Further follow-up of the outbreak and the identification of intermediate hosts are needed.