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Fatal spirorchiidosis in European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis) in Switzerland


Schönbächler, Katja; Olias, Philipp; Richard, Olivia K; Origgi, Francesco C; Dervas, Eva; Hoby, Stefan; Basso, Walter; Berenguer Veiga, Inês (2022). Fatal spirorchiidosis in European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis) in Switzerland. International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife, 17:144-151.

Abstract

Infections with intravascular digenean trematodes of the Spirorchiidae family (spirorchiidoses) are of great conservation concern both in marine and freshwater turtles due to their pathogenic potential. Between 2014 and 2021, Spirorchis sp. infections associated with granulomatous inflammation and sudden death were detected in European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis) from three conservation breeding facilities in Switzerland. Blood fluke eggs associated with lesions were found in the intestine, spleen, testis, skeletal musculature, heart, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, liver, lung, and meninges from nine pond turtles submitted for necropsy and in the intestinal content from five of these animals. Two novel polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) targeting the 28S ribosomal RNA gene and the ITS2 region and subsequent sequencing revealed 100% nucleotide identity with a Spirorchis sp. previously isolated from an Escambia map turtle (Graptemys ernsti) in the USA. Our findings suggest a spill-over event secondary to direct or indirect contact with invasive North American turtle species in Switzerland. We describe the clinical, haematological, ultrasonographical, endoscopical, parasitological, pathological, and molecular findings associated with spirorchiid blood fluke infections of the Spirorchis genus in E. orbicularis, as well as the biosecurity measures that were developed to prevent the spread of this parasite among breeding and highly endangered free-ranging E. orbicularis populations in Switzerland.

Abstract

Infections with intravascular digenean trematodes of the Spirorchiidae family (spirorchiidoses) are of great conservation concern both in marine and freshwater turtles due to their pathogenic potential. Between 2014 and 2021, Spirorchis sp. infections associated with granulomatous inflammation and sudden death were detected in European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis) from three conservation breeding facilities in Switzerland. Blood fluke eggs associated with lesions were found in the intestine, spleen, testis, skeletal musculature, heart, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, liver, lung, and meninges from nine pond turtles submitted for necropsy and in the intestinal content from five of these animals. Two novel polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) targeting the 28S ribosomal RNA gene and the ITS2 region and subsequent sequencing revealed 100% nucleotide identity with a Spirorchis sp. previously isolated from an Escambia map turtle (Graptemys ernsti) in the USA. Our findings suggest a spill-over event secondary to direct or indirect contact with invasive North American turtle species in Switzerland. We describe the clinical, haematological, ultrasonographical, endoscopical, parasitological, pathological, and molecular findings associated with spirorchiid blood fluke infections of the Spirorchis genus in E. orbicularis, as well as the biosecurity measures that were developed to prevent the spread of this parasite among breeding and highly endangered free-ranging E. orbicularis populations in Switzerland.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinärwissenschaftliches Institut > Institute of Veterinary Pathology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Parasitology
Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Health Sciences > Infectious Diseases
Uncontrolled Keywords:Infectious Diseases, Animal Science and Zoology, Parasitology
Language:English
Date:1 April 2022
Deposited On:08 Dec 2022 16:30
Last Modified:27 Jun 2024 01:42
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:2213-2244
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijppaw.2022.01.004
PubMed ID:35079570
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)