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Air sac trematodes: Morishitium polonicum as a newly identified cause of death in the common blackbird (Turdus merula).


ABSTRACT: Necropsy of two free-ranging common blackbirds (Turdus merula) found dead in central Italy revealed the presence of a high number of cyclocoelid flukes in the coelomatic cavity. Cyclocoelid flukes primarily infect avian respiratory system. Histologically, air sac walls were covered with a fibrinous exudate containing degenerate heterophils, many trematodes and some colonies of Gram-positive cocci. The superficial bronchi and parabronchi were markedly distended, and the adjacent pulmonary parenchyma was congested and collapsed. Trematodes, surrounded by a mild suppurative to pyogranulomatous inflammatory reaction, were also observed on the pericardial, intestinal, kidney and hepatic serosal surfaces. The death of the two examined birds was likely due to the high parasite load and associated severe lesions. At parasitological examination, flukes showed a tongue-shaped elongate body, tapered anteriorly and rounded posteriorly, of 2,088-2,314??m in width and 8,268-11,830??m in length. The mouth was slightly oval and sub-terminal, with a small oral sucker. The oval pharynx measured 250-309??m, and the two caeca joined posteriorly. Two large (550-702??m?×?450-520??m) globular testes were situated obliquely to each other, whereas an oval (250?×?300??m in mean) or round (about 334??m in diameter) intertesticular ovary was placed in a longitudinal straight line with the testes. The ootype was about 110??m in diameter, while the brown-yellow eggs measured 131.5?×?73.9??m in mean. The genital pore was post-pharyngeal, while the symmetrically arranged vitelline glands were not confluent posteriorly. Morphoflogical diagnosis led to the identification of Morishitium polonicum, a cyclocoelid fluke species that typically inhabits the air sacs of blackbirds. The morphological diagnosis was corroborated by molecular phylogenetic analysis of the mitochondrial (CO1, ND1) DNA loci. The present study provides the first report of pathological lesions and death caused by M. polonicum in birds.

SUBMITTER: Galosi L 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6463545 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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