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Parasite fauna of wild Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) of the Andean Region, Colombia

Vélez, Juan, Hirzmann, Jörg, Arévalo-González, Katerin, Lange, Malin K., Seipp, Anika, Gärtner, Ulrich, Taubert, Anja, Caballero, Susana, Hermosilla, Carlos
Parasites & vectors 2019 v.12 no.1 pp. 183
Eimeria, Entamoeba, Giardia, Trematoda, Trichechus manatus, endoparasites, epidemiological studies, fauna, feces, gastrointestinal system, health status, herbivores, host specificity, hosts, mammals, monitoring, phylogeny, protozoal infections, public health, rivers, wetlands, zoonoses, Andes region, Colombia, North America
BACKGROUND: Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) are large herbivorous aquatic mammals living in limited areas of South, Central and North America. As with other aquatic mammals, Antillean manatees can be infected by a variety of protozoan and metazoan parasites, some of them with zoonotic potential, which affect not only their welfare but also population health status. Therefore, we conducted the first epidemiological survey in Colombian free-ranging Antillean manatees to estimate their actual gastrointestinal parasite status. RESULTS: In total, 69 faecal samples were collected from free-ranging individual manatees during ecology field studies in the rivers Carare and San Juan and in two associated wetlands in the Andean region of Colombia. Parasite diversity encompassed six different endoparasite species. The highest prevalence was found for protozoan infections with Eimeria nodulosa (47.8%) and Eimeria manatus-like species (type A, B; 43.4%), followed by Entamoeba sp. (14.49%) and Giardia sp. (1.4%) infections. In addition, infections with the trematode Chiorchis fabaceus were detected at a high prevalence (33.3%). Molecular characterization of sirenian Eimeria species led to the distinction of three species, E. nodulosa and two E. manatus-like species (type A, B). Phylogenetic analyses indicated a host-specific adaptation of sirenian Eimeria species as previously reported for Eimeria species from other mammalian hosts. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first record of Antillean manatee infection with Giardia and Entamoeba species in Colombia, representing two important anthropozoonotic parasite genera. This survey should serve as a baseline investigation for future monitoring on parasitic zoonoses in this mammal and encourage for investigations on their impact on both public health and wild manatee welfare.