Parasitology Research

, Volume 102, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Investigations on the biology, epidemiology, pathology and control of Tunga penetrans in Brazil. VI. Natural history of the infestation in laboratory-raised Wistar rats

  • Hermann Feldmeier
  • Lars Witt
  • Stefan Schwalfenberg
  • Pedro M. Linardi
  • Ronaldo A. Ribeiro
  • Raphael A. C. Capaz
  • Eric Van Marck
  • Oliver Meckes
  • Heinz Mehlhorn
  • Norbert Mencke
  • Jörg Heukelbach


Tungiasis is endemic in many countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa, and it is associated with severe morbidity. The pathophysiological and immunological characteristics of the ectoparasitosis are not well understood, and no effective therapy is currently available. The aim of this study was to describe the natural history of tungiasis in laboratory-raised Wistar rats. The rats were exposed in the laboratory to the parasite or were kept in a natural environment with an intense transmission of Tunga penetrans. The time course of the infestation was determined, and lesions were photographed, described clinically in detail and biopsied. Biopsies were examined histopathologically and by light and scanning electron microscopy. Based on these findings, the natural history of tungiasis in Wistar rats was described and divided in five stages. Our data show that the natural history of tungiasis in Wistar rats and humans is almost identical, except that in the animals, the basement membrane disrupts 5 days after penetration and provokes an intense infiltration of the dermis, while in humans, the basement membrane remains intact. The study indicates that the Wistar rat is an appropriate model for the study of clinical and pathological aspects of tungiasis. Using this model should enable a better understanding of the pathophysiology and immunology of the ectoparasitosis.


Stratum Corneum Abdominal Segment Head Louse Hypertrophy Zone Penetration Phase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The study was supported by the DAAD-CAPES German-Brazilian academic exchange programme (Bonn, Germany; Brasília, Brazil) and by Komittee Ärzte für die Dritte Welt (Frankfurt, Germany). PML and RAR are research fellows from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq/Brasil). The excellent secretarial assistance of Michi Feldmeier is greatly appreciated. The data are part of a medical thesis by LW.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hermann Feldmeier
    • 1
  • Lars Witt
    • 1
  • Stefan Schwalfenberg
    • 1
  • Pedro M. Linardi
    • 2
  • Ronaldo A. Ribeiro
    • 3
  • Raphael A. C. Capaz
    • 3
  • Eric Van Marck
    • 4
  • Oliver Meckes
    • 5
  • Heinz Mehlhorn
    • 6
  • Norbert Mencke
    • 7
  • Jörg Heukelbach
    • 8
  1. 1.Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene, Campus Benjamin FranklinCharité University MedicineBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of ParasitologyFederal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, School of MedicineFederal University of CearáFortalezaBrazil
  4. 4.Department of Pathology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  5. 5.Eye of Science, GbRReutlingenGermany
  6. 6.Department of Zoology and ParasitologyHeinrich-Heine-UniversityDüsseldorfGermany
  7. 7.Bayer Health Care AGAnimal HealthLeverkusenGermany
  8. 8.Department of Community Health, School of MedicineFederal University of CearáFortalezaBrazil

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