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Schistosomes in South African penguins


During the years 2009–2012, faeces of African penguins (Spheniscus demersus L.) from South African rehabilitation centres were examined for helminths. In total, 46 out 555 samples (8.29 %), mostly belonging to adult birds, were found to contain oval schistosome eggs with a spine on one pole. Their dimensions were 153.21 ± 9.07 × 87.14 ± 8.67 μm. Selected DNA fragments (18S, 28S and ITS rDNA) were sequenced and compared to other schistosome isolates deposited in GenBank. The shape of the eggs suggests that they belong to the genus Gigantobilharzia; however, due to the insufficient stage of knowledge of the genus and limited number of species available for comparison, we were not able to assign the isolate unambiguously to this genus based on either the egg morphology or the results of molecular analysis.

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The authors would like to thank Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC). Financial support for molecular analysis of the samples was provided by the Natural History Museum Disease Initiative.

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Correspondence to Jitka A. Aldhoun.

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Aldhoun, J.A., Horne, E.C. Schistosomes in South African penguins. Parasitol Res 114, 237–246 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-014-4185-1

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  • African penguins
  • Avian schistosomes
  • Gigantobilharzia
  • Egg morphology