Pathology associated with Odhneriotrema incommodum infection in wild-caught American alligators Alligator mississippiensis and assessment of potential first intermediate snail hosts

Ethan T. Woodyard, Wes A. Baumgartner, Scott A. Rush, Matt J. Griffin, Thomas Graham Rosser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aims: To assess pathological changes associated with natural infections of the trematode Odhneriotrema incommodum in wild-caught American alligators Alligator mississippiensis and assess potential first intermediate hosts. Materials and methods: Tongues from two wild-caught alligators were obtained from a commercial alligator processor in Port Gibson, Mississippi, USA. Tongues were subjected to gross parasitological examination and routine histological assessment. Eggs were expressed from adult trematodes collected from these tongues into distilled water, where they hatched into infectious miracidia. The snails Planorbella trivolvis, Physa gyrina, and Biomphalaria havanensis were exposed to these miracidia and observed for cercarial emergence for 200 days post-exposure. Results: Histological assessment of alligator tongues revealed marked hemorrhage, necrosis, presence of bacteria, and inflammation at sites of Odhneriotrema incommodum attachment, differing from previous histological reports from controlled experimental studies. Cercarial emergence was not observed in snails exposed to infectious miracidia. Conclusions: Wild-caught alligators infected with Odhneriotrema incommodum exhibit more severe pathology than was previously noted from experimentally infected alligators. This adverse pathology may be associated with microbes present in eutrophic natural habitats that are absent from controlled environments used in experimental exposures. Impacts of this parasite in wild alligator populations are likely underestimated and damage associated with parasite attachment could increase host susceptibility to secondary infections. Given the importance of alligators as game animals and sustained demand for alligator products, further study into the role of O. incommodum on alligator health is warranted. Results of snail exposures to miracidia suggest these snail species are not suitable first intermediate hosts for this trematode and the true first intermediate host of O. incommodum remains unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-150
Number of pages7
JournalActa Parasitologica
Volume65
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alligator
  • Alligator mississippiensis
  • Biomphalaria havanensis
  • Odhneriotrema incommodum
  • Planorbella trivolvis
  • Trematode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology

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