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Helminth parasites of the Eurasian otter Lutra lutra in southwest Europe

  • J. Torres (a1), C. Feliu (a1), J. Fernández-Morán (a2), J. Ruíz-Olmo (a3), R. Rosoux (a4), M. Santos-Reis (a5), J. Miquel (a5) and R. Fons (a6)...

The helminth fauna in 109 Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra L.) from France, Portugal and Spain was analysed, together with 56 faecal samples collected in Portugal and 23 fresh stools from otters included in a reintroduction programme. Seven helminth species were found in L. lutra in southwest Europe: Phagicola sp. (Trematoda), Aonchotheca putorii, Eucoleus schvalovoj, Strongyloides lutrae, Anisakis (third stage larvae) and Dirofilaria immitis (Nematoda), and Gigantorhynchus sp. (Acanthocephala). Eucoleus schvalovoj was the dominant species throughout southwest Europe. Strongyloides lutrae was significantly more prevalent in the Iberian Peninsula than in France. Apart from these two dominant nematodes and A. putorii, the other helminth species were incidental parasites of L. lutra in southwest Europe. The helminth fauna of L. lutra in southwest Europe is, in general, poorer than that reported in eastern Europe and in all other aquatic mustelids in southwest Europe. Phagicola specimens are reported for the first time in a non-marine wild carnivore in Europe. The prevalences of E. schvalovoj and S. lutrae obtained by necropsy were higher than those observed by coprological analysis using a formalin-ether concentration method (Ritchie). Nevertheless, the culture of fresh faeces appears to be the best method to study infection of L. lutra by Strongyloides.

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