Molecular and morphological characterization of Hepatozoon spp. in Brazilian snakes

The genus Hepatozoon represents one of six genera in the hemogregarine group. Some studies in snakes indicated effects in the host, from slight influences on fitness to severe effects on growth rate, reproduction and offspring survival rates. Diagnosis and identification are usually through blood smear analyses; but not all infected animals show parasitemia. Based on this, the present study established an adapted molecular protocol to identify Hepatozoon spp. to be used as a complementary test for routine diagnoses at the Clinical Analysis Laboratory at S?o Paulo Zoological Park Foundation. The study was conducted with 113 individuals. Microscopical analysis and molecular techniques were used to identify the parasite. Microscopic analyses showed 13.3% of the samples to be positive. The first pair of primers, targeting 18S rRNA gene, amplified parasite DNA in 6.3% of the samples. The second pair of primers, targeting Apicoplast fragment, were used only on samples that were identified microscopically as being positive, detecting the presence of parasite DNA in 93.3% of these. Phylogenetic analysis of the resulting sequences found five clusters for the 18S gene and five clusters for the Apicoplast fragment. Studies involving Hepatozoon spp. are still scarce and limited, mainly in snakes and the impacts of this parasite on the vertebrate host, so diagnostic studies are essential for wildlife conservation, especially in ex situ work.

Giardia spp., ten years of parasitological data in the biggest zoo of Latin America

Giardia spp. (Diplomonadida: Hexamitidae) is an important and widely studied protozoan parasite with worldwide distribution. Nowadays have six described species, and the most important probably is Giardia duodenalis due to the zoonotical potential that some assemblages have. Many studies analysing samples from wild animals have detected Giardia in captive environment, including the zoonotic type. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of Giardia sp. in wild captive animals at Sao Paulo Zoo, using conventional parasitological techniques (direct smear, passive flotation with saturated sodium chloride solution and simple gravity sedimentation), from 2006 to 2016. In total, 7066 coprological exams were performed during this period with samples from mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The prevalence of Giardia infections was of 1.5% (103/7066). Mammals had the higher prevalence of infections with 2% (77/3872), followed by birds with 1.1% (25/2186) and reptiles with only one positive sample (1/894). All samples from amphibians were negative. Representatives of thirteen families presented positive results for this parasite: Dromaidae, Phasianidae, Ramphastidae, Cervidae, Giraffidae, Canidae, Felidae, Herpestidae, Myrmecophagidae, Callithrichidae, Cebidae, Hylobatidae and Dipsadidae. This study presents the first report of Giardia sp. in Pavo muticus and Brachyteles arachnoides. Infections were prevalent in Cebidae and Ramphastidae species. The findings of this study highlight the importance of identifying which Giardia assemblage are involved in the infections and if they may have a zoonotic potential.

Occurrence of endoparasites in Ramphastidae (Aves: Piciformes) in São Paulo Zoo

Ramphastidae (Aves: Piciformes) are animals recognized for their exuberant colours and long bill, with distribution range from south Mexico to north Argentina. They are important seed dispersers eating little vertebrates eventually. When in captivity, animals usually live in limited spaces, with high density and near by species that do not share a evolution history, facilitating the occurrence of infectious diseases for what they may not have a competent immune system against, including the parasitic ones. This study analyzed the endoparasites that occur in captive Ramphastidae at São Paulo Zoo in the period January 2009 to September 2011. Seven species of toucans and toucanets had parasitological results positive for Trichuridae nematodes, Eimeria sp., Giardia sp., non sporulated coccidian oocists and unidentified nematode eggs, and microfilarie was the only hemoparasite found.