Publication details

Endemic lizard Gallotia galloti is a paratenic host of invasive Angiostrongylus cantonensis in Tenerife, Spain

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Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Parasitology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Angiostrongylus cantonensis; Gallotia galloti; invasive nematode; paratenic host
Description Angiostrongylus cantonensis is an invasive zoonotic nematode which causes eosinophilic meningitis in accidental hosts – vertebrates including humans – and is known to impact wildlife. Even though the parasite originates in Southeast Asia, it has spread worldwide, especially into fragile island ecosystems. The Canary Islands are a biodiversity hot spot with numerous endemic species affected by biological invasions. Among others, Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus threaten many endemic species by predation and may spread invasive pathogens, such as the rat lungworm A. cantonensis, which was first described in Tenerife in 2010. Since it is known that lizards can act as paratenic hosts for A. cantonensis and Gallotia galloti is a lizard abundant in Tenerife, the aim of this study was to reveal the role of these endemic lizards in the parasite's life cycle. Gallotia galloti were captured in Tegueste, Tenerife, and after euthanasia, liver and tail muscle samples were examined for the presence of A. cantonensis. During microscopic examination, 8/36 liver samples (22.2%) contained granulomas with nematode larvae. In total, 10/39 liver samples (25.6%) and 7/36 tail muscle samples (19.4%) were positive for A. cantonensis DNA using qPCR. This is a first report of a reptile endemic to the Canary Islands acting as paratenic host of A. cantonensis. The fact that the parasite is obviously well-established in the island ecosystem and exploits endemic lizards as hosts may have important implications for the parasite's ecoepidemiology. Moreover, the parasite might threaten other species which depend on lizards in the island trophic web.
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