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The morphological discrimination of microfilariae of Onchocerca volvulus from Mansonella ozzardi

  • R. J. POST (a1), Z. ADAMS (a1), A. J. SHELLEY (a1), M. MAIA-HERZOG (a2), A. P. A. LUNA DIAS (a2) and S. COSCARÓN (a3)...

There is no published account which allows the morphological discrimination of microfilariae of Onchocerca volvulus and M. ozzardi from each other. However, they occur together in parts of Brazil and Venezuela, and presumably there is always the possibility that migration could establish new sympatric populations in the future. The objective of this study was to evaluate simple morphological characters that might be used for species-diagnosis of microfilariae. The conclusions were that the location of microfilariae in the blood or skin, the body size and the nucleation of the nerve ring are expected to be useful first indications of species identity, but cannot be used for confident diagnosis. The structure of the cephalic armature (stained with alcian blue) seems to be species specific, but is of limited application because it is often difficult to see. However, the pattern of nucleation of the tail (as expressed by the ratio of the length of the terminal nucleus compared with the length of the tail space) is distinctive and is expected to be diagnostic.

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Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK. Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5593. Fax: +44 (0)20 7942 5229. E-mail:
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