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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.

Corresponding author
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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CHADEE, D. D., RAWLINS, S. C., DOON, R. & BABOOLAL, S. (1994). Presence of annular rings on Mansonella ozzardi microfilariae. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene88, 356.

LAURENCE, B. R. & SIMPSON, M. G. (1968). Cephalic and pharyngeal structures in microfilariae revealed by staining. Journal of Helminthology42, 309330.

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MORAES, M. A. P., SHELLEY, A. J., LUNA DIAS, A. P. A. & MANGABEIRA SILVA, C. J. (1983). The concentration of Mansonella ozzardi microfilariae in the skin capillaries. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene77, 463466.

MORALES HOJAS, R., POST, R. J., SHELLEY, A. J., MAIA-HERZOG, M., COSCARON, S. & CHEKE, R. A. (2001). Characterisation of nuclear ribosomal DNA sequences from Onchocerca volvulus and Mansonella ozzardi (Nematoda: Filarioidea) and development of a PCR-based method for their detection in skin biopsies. International Journal for Parasitology31, 169177.

MULLER, R. (2002). Worms and Human Disease, 2nd Edn. CABI Publishing, London Wallingford.

SHELLEY, A. J., MAIA-HERZOG, M. & CALVÃO-BRITO, R. (2001). The specificity of an ELISA for detecting Onchocerca volvulus in Brazil. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene95, 171173.

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  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
  • URL: /core/journals/parasitology
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