Infection with tongue worms in Australian animals

Shokoofeh Shamsi, Kate McSpadden, Sara Baker, Panayiotis Loukopoulos, David Jenkins

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


We present our findings on the prevalence, distribution, histopathology and specific identification of an intriguing parasite, the tongue “worm” in Australia. The tongue-worm, Linguatula serrata (Pentastomida: Linguatulidae) is an obligate arthropod parasite that may be found in the nostrils of carnivores. Larval stages of the parasite inhabit the lymph nodes, liver and lungs of their intermediate hosts, including various species of livestock and wildlife. Tongue worms are of zoonotic significance, human infection with both adult and larval stages of the parasite having been reported in several countries. In Australia there have been few reports of tongue worms, generally as an accidental finding. In this study we examined wild canids, vulpids and lapids as well as domestic livestock in South-Eastern Australia for infection with these parasites. A combined morphological and molecular approach was used for their specific identification. The prevalence of these parasites in the region was unexpectedly high, with 67% of the wild dogs examined affected. Histopathological examination of the host tissues revealed mechanical damage to the mucosal membranes in the nasal cavity and moderately severe granulomatous lymphadenitis with some intra-lesional parasitic remnants in damaged lymph nodes. Currently tongue worm infection and the human and animal disease impacts arising from infection are not of primary concern to Australian veterinarians and health practitioners. Wildlife is now recognised globally as an important source of emerging human pathogens. The prevalence of these zoonotic parasites in Australian carnivores indicates the importance of increasing public awareness of these zoonotic parasites, particularly health professionals and veterinarian.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event3rd International Congress on Parasites of Wildlife - Skukuza Kruger National Park, Skukuza , South Africa
Duration: 24 Sep 201727 Sep 2017 (Conference website)


Conference3rd International Congress on Parasites of Wildlife
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
OtherThe Parasitological Society of Southern Africa (PARSA) is delighted to invite you to a three-day international congress on PARASITES OF WILDLIFE, to be held at the state-of-the-art Nombole Mdluli Conference Centre in Skukuza, the main tourist centre of the world-famous Kruger National Park. The optional fourth day (28 September 2017) will be devoted to workshops.

All parasitologists (in the fields of biology, zoology, veterinary science, etc.) are invited to participate. Abstracts of studies on parasites of free-ranging as well as captive wildlife species will be considered for either oral or poster presentation. One of the planned session will focus on the management of parasitoses in captive wildlife.
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