Parasitology Research

, Volume 117, Issue 7, pp 2315–2322 | Cite as

An unexpected case of a Japanese wild boar (Sus scrofa leucomystax) infected with the giant thorny-headed worm (Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus) on the mainland of Japan (Honshu)

  • Koichiro Kamimura
  • Kenzo Yonemitsu
  • Ken Maeda
  • Seiho Sakaguchi
  • Aogu Setsuda
  • Antonio Varcasia
  • Hiroshi SatoEmail author
Original Paper


The giant thorny-headed worm Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus is a zoonotic acanthocephalan species with a worldwide distribution. Its natural definitive hosts are primarily pigs and wild boars (Sus scrofa), and scarabaeid beetles serve as the intermediate host. To date, there has only been one record of this acanthocephalan in Japan: a Ryukyu wild boar (Sus scrofa riukiuanus) hunted in 1973 on Amami Island, faraway from the Japanese mainland. The present study reports the second case of this acanthocephalan in Japan: a Japanese wild boar (Sus scrofa leucomystax) hunted in May 2017 in Yamaguchi Prefecture, the westernmost part of the Japanese mainland (Honshu). More than a dozen acanthocephalans (123 to 233 mm in length and 5 to 6 mm in width) were found with their proboscides inserted deeply into the intestinal wall, forming grossly visible nodules on the external surface. Isolated worms underwent a molecular genetic characterization of the ribosomal RNA gene (rDNA) and mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene (cox-1). Long rDNA nucleotide sequences (5870 to 5890 bp) spanning the beginning of the 18S rDNA through to the 28S rDNA, including the internal transcribed spacer regions, and 1384-bp cox-1 nucleotide sequences were obtained. In the future, in conjunction with the accumulation of molecular genetic data of multiple M. hirudinaceus isolates from different endemic localities abroad, our data may help to postulate the origin or present transmission status of this extremely rarely encountered acanthocephalan in Japan.


Acanthocephala Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus Sus scrofa leucomystax Japan rDNA Cox-1 



We would like to express our sincere thanks to the local hunters and municipal officers engaged in the protection of wildlife in Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, who made this study possible. We are indebted to Professor Emeritus Shuhei Tanaka, Faculty of Agriculture, Yamaguchi University, for his help with the SEM.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Koichiro Kamimura
    • 1
  • Kenzo Yonemitsu
    • 2
  • Ken Maeda
    • 2
  • Seiho Sakaguchi
    • 1
  • Aogu Setsuda
    • 3
  • Antonio Varcasia
    • 4
  • Hiroshi Sato
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Parasitology, Joint Faculty of Veterinary MedicineYamaguchi UniversityYamaguchiJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of Microbiology, Joint Faculty of Veterinary MedicineYamaguchi UniversityYamaguchiJapan
  3. 3.United Graduate School of Veterinary ScienceYamaguchi UniversityYamaguchiJapan
  4. 4.Laboratory of Parasitology, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Department of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of SassariSassariItaly

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