Having bird schistosomes in mind—the first detection of Bilharziella polonica (Kowalewski 1895) in the bird neural system
Nasal bird schistosomes can cause bilharziosis in birds and have the potential to cause swimmer’s itch in humans. We determined the prevalence of bird schistosomes in 106 mallards (Anas plathyrhynchos) from 11 water sources in Germany from 2014. Dissections were performed focusing on parasitic infections of the neural system. Infections with Trichobilharzia regenti (Horák et al. 1998) were found in 21% of the birds (n = 22), whereas Bilharziella polonica (Kowalewski 1895) were found between the brain membranes (meninges) and the brain, in the spinal cord or in the intestine of 12% of the mallards (n = 13). No significant influence of sex, age, and body condition between infected and non-infected animals was observed. Our study provides the first description of B. polonica from the neural system of birds and provides an epidemiological understanding of a parasite of human health concern.
KeywordsBird schistosomes Bilharziella polonica Trichobilharzia regenti Mallard
This research was undertaken as part of the Graduate School IMPact-Vector funded by the Senate Competition Committee grant (SAW-2014-SGN-3) of the Leibniz Association. We thank Prof. Petr Horák from the Prague University and his co-workers, especially Jana Bulantová and Roman Leontovyč, for their assistance with the necropsies and genetic methods, all the collaborating hunters, the lab assistants Nina Hartmann, Sophie Ewert, Lisa Giese, Lorena Derezanin, and our supportive colleagues Susanne Auls, Manuela Merling de Chapa, Ines Lesniak, and Mathias Franz.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Baker K (1993) Identification guide to European non-passerines. British trust for ornithology, ThetfordGoogle Scholar
- Doster GL, Goater CP (1997) Collection and quantification of avian helminths and protozoa. In: Host-parasite evolution–general principles and avian models. Oxford University Press, Oxford, p 396 ± 418Google Scholar
- Khalifa R (1972) Studies on schistosomatidae Looss, 1899 (Trematoda) of aquatic birds of Poland. In: I. On the life cycle of Bilharziella polonica Kowalewski, 1895, with a discussion of the subfamily Bilharziellinae Price, 1929. Acta Parasitologica Polonica, p 20:343–365Google Scholar
- Core Team R (2014) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
- Sonin MD (1985) Key to the determination of trematodes infecting fish eating birds in the Palearctic region I. Publishing House AN SSSR, MoskowGoogle Scholar