Nematode parasites belonging to the genus Contracaecum are economically important parasites with zoonotic significance. Adult Contracaecum spp. are found in the stomach of marine mammals or piscivorous birds, and larval stages infect a wide range of invertebrates and fish species. Human infection with Contracaecum larvae has been reported in Australia and other countries after the consumption of infected fish. Although the genus Contracaecum comprises numerous species, thus far only four Contracaecum larval types have been specifically identified, therefore their life cycle and biology are not yet fully understood. In this study, a new Contracaecum larva (type IV), found in the intestinal tissue of carp caught from Coonancoocabil Lagoon, New South Wales, Australia, is described and characterized genetically. It was identified as Contracaecum bancrofti, a unique Australian species reported previously from the Australian pelican in Northern Territory, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. This study highlights the role of migratory birds and introduced fish species, such as carp, in distributing zoonotic pathogens not only across the continent but also from marine to freshwater systems. Coonancoocabil Lagoon is located in the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park, a highly managed conservation area with native fish in wetlands located in close proximity to several fish farms and hatcheries. Infection of a highly resilient invasive fish species, such as carp, with a zoonotic parasite of low host specificity, such as Contracaecum larvae, should be alarming for aquaculture and environmental authorities.
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