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Trypanosomes are haemoflagellate protozoa transmitted by blood-feeding arthropods causing infections in a wide range of mammals, including humans. Adult badgers (Meles meles, n = 2), displaying severe paralysis, ataxia and severe ectoparasite infestation, were rescued from a peri-urban area of Bari (southern Italy). Blood samples and ectoparasites were screened for Trypanosoma spp. by the combined PCR/sequencing approach, targeting a fragment of 18S rRNA gene. Smears of haemolymph, guts and salivary glands of the alive ticks were microscopically observed. No haematological alterations, except thrombocytopenia, were found. Trypomastigotes and epimastigotes were observed in the blood smears of both badgers and Trypanosoma pestanai was molecularly identified. Out of 33 ticks (i.e. n = 31 Ixodes canisuga, n = 2 Ixodes ricinus) and two fleas (Ctenocephalides felis), 11 specimens (n = 5 I. canisuga engorged nymphs, n = 4 engorged females and n = 2 I. ricinus engorged females) tested positive only for T. pestanai DNA. All smears from ticks were negative. The present study firstly revealed T. pestanai in Ixodidae and badgers from Italy, demonstrating the occurrence of the protozoan on the peninsula. Further studies are needed to clarify the occurrence of the only known vector of this parasite, Paraceras melis flea, as well as other putative arthropods involved in the transmission of T. pestanai.
Metastrongyloids of cats are emerging pathogens that may cause fatal broncho-pulmonary disease. Infestation of definitive hosts occurs after ingestion of intermediate or paratenic hosts. Among metastrongyloids of cats, Troglostrongylus brevior and Troglostrongylus subcrenatus (Strongylida: Crenosomatidae) have recently been described as agents of severe broncho-pulmonary disease. Here, we provide, for the first time, observational evidence suggesting the direct transmission of T. brevior from queen cat to suckling kittens. This new knowledge will have a significant impact on current scientific information of this parasite and shed new light into the biology and epidemiology of metastrongyloid nematodes.
Following the recent description of microfilariae of a Cercopithifilaria sp. in a dog from Sicily, Italy, (herein after referred to as Cercopithifilaria sp. I), numerous skin samples were collected from dogs in the Mediterranean region. In addition to Cercopithifilaria sp. I (185·7 ± 7·2 μm long), microfilariae of 2 other species were identified, namely Cercopithifilaria grassii (651·7 ± 23·6 μm long) and a yet undescribed microfilaria, Cercopithifilaria sp. II (264·4 ± 20·2 μm long, with evident lateral alae). The morphological differentiation among the 3 species of dermal microfilariae was confirmed by differences in cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 and ribosomal 12S sequences examined (mean level of interspecific pairwise distance of 11·4%, and 17·7%, respectively). Phylogenetic analyses were concordant in clustering these with other sequences of Cercopithifilaria spp. to the exclusion of Dirofilaria spp., Onchocerca spp. and Acanthocheilonema spp. Dermal microfilariae collected (n = 132) were morphologically identified as Cercopithifilaria sp. I (n = 108, 81·8%), Cercopithifilaria sp. II (n = 17, 12·9%), whereas only 7 (5·3%) were identified as C. grassii. Mixed infestations were detected in all sites examined. The great diversity of these neglected filarioids in dogs is of biological interest, considering the complex interactions occurring among hosts, ticks and Cercopithifilaria spp. in different environments.
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