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First pathological report of parasitic gastric ulceration in Humboldt penguin Spheniscus humboldti along the coast of south-central Chile. Corresponding to:. This report offers a macroscopic and histological description of ulcerative gastric lesions in Humboldt penguins associated with the presence of Contracaecum pelagicum. Parasites of this genus have been isolated from different species of marine mammals and birds, including penguins, demonstrating its capacity to generate ulcerative lesions in the gastrointestinal tracts of many hosts.
A bibliographic review revealed no publications on gastric ulceration by nematodes in Humboldt penguins. Studies carried out in Chile concerning gastrointestinal parasitism by nematodes of the Contracaecum genus in S. This is the first pathological description of a parasitic ulcerative manifestation in the stomach of S. The Humboldt penguin is a vulnerable species. Therefore, this study is relevant as it offers a better understanding of the diseases that affect S.
Keywords: Spheniscus humboldti, Humboldt penguin, ulcer, stomach, Contracaecum, Chile. They live in colonies, travel and hunt in groups, and return each year to the same nesting site where they develop neighborly relationships Wallace et al. Consequently, this species participates in a parasitic life cycle, mostly concerning nematodes, of the family Anisakidae. Specifically, the genus Contracaecum has been described in piscivorous birds, particularly different penguin species Pazos et al.
The life cycle of the genus Contracaecum is heteroxenous, and adult stages are located in the proventriculous of seabirds, which serve as definitive hosts Melhorn et al. Gravid female parasites release eggs that are excreted into the water with bird feces.
Third-stage larvae emerge and are ingested by crustaceans, which act as intermediate hosts. Fish may act as paratenic hosts. Thus, if fish consume infected invertebrates, the larvae does not continue to develop but remain encapsulated inside the intestinal wall, mesentery, liver, and other internal organs of the host.
Many publications deal with gastric ulceration by Contracaecum in mammals and birds such as penguins, but no studies have described these symptoms in Humboldt penguins. Thus, the present work is the first description of gastric ulceration by C. Therefore, prevalence and incidence studies are required to determine the real impact of parasitic ulcers on this population. Such knowledge would allow us to define adequate preventive or therapeutic strategies that would reduce mortality and strengthen the species recovery.
A clinical evaluation of the birds showed them to be inattentive to surrounding stimuli, highly undernourished, weak, and suffering digestive alteration diarrhea. Despite these emergency measures, penguins died three hours after treatment. Postmortem evaluations were performed immediately.
The necropsy was done according to the protocol presented by Work A severe gastrointestinal parasitic condition was found. Anisakidae worms were present in the middle third of the esophagus, increasing their number towards the glandular portion of the stomach. Parasites observed in the esophageal tract had probably been regurgitated since no lesions were found in the esophageal mucosa. The stomachs of the birds showed severe blood congestion, as evidenced by the plethoric condition of the blood vessels superficially arranged on the greater curvature of the organ.
Multiple ulcerations with yellow-whitish borders and a caseous aspect were located exclusively in the glandular portion of the gastric mucosa Fig. Nematodes of different sizes were found in most of the observed lesions in the Humboldt penguins.
The affected areas varied from 0. Figure 1. Macroscopic and histological lesions in the gastric glandular portion of the stomach of S. Detail of taxonomical features: three bifurcated interlabia and striations.
Figura 1. In total, 23 specimens of nematode parasites were collected; one female, four males, and two juveniles from the first penguin; two female, five males, and two juveniles from the second penguin; and three females and four males from the third penguin.
When examined under light microscopy, all were found to belong to the genus Contracaecum. Although the distribution of the lesions differed, the authors agreed that most worms were found free in the stomach contents.
In penguins, gastric ulcerative processes caused by Contracaecum sp. Penguins are fundamentally ichthyophagous and, therefore, they acquire the parasite through the ingestion of infected fish. Ulcerations in the esophageal and intestinal mucosa caused by Anisakidae are less frequent in S. Samples were embedded in paraffin.
The histoarchitecture of the gastric mucosa was severely altered by a granulomatous reaction. The central area consisted of an acellular hyaline substance and presented calcium mineralization foci that replaced the mucosal glandular tissue and, in many cases, extended to the muscular tunica Fig.
The origin of the hyaline substance is uncertain. The inflammatory infiltration showed a great amount of neutrophils heterophils , lymphocytes, plasma cells, bordered by multinucleated giant cells foreign-body-type , and epithelioid cells aggregates. The injured area was surrounded by a severe desmoplastic reaction Fig.
The worm Contracaecum pelagicum was identified by the spatial distribution of tail papillae and the presence of bifurcated interlabia Fig.
This identification agreed with the diagnostic characteristics established by Garbin et al. It was subsequently redescribed on the Uruguayan coasts. Portes-Santos , Fagerholm et al.
Silva et al. However, these works were primarily taxonomic studies of the parasite specimens rather than studies of the tissular alterations they caused in the hosts. In general, few publications have described the pathological alterations caused by the genus Contracaecum in marine birds. To date, no studies dealing with ulcers caused by this parasite in the Humboldt penguin have been published.
Tissular alterations by Contracaecum pelagicum should be common in the Humboldt penguin population since these birds are part of the life cycle of this parasite. Herling et al. In this study, fish were the dominant prey item, mainly anchovy Engraulis rigens and Inca scad Trachurus murphyi. Therefore, this worm could play an important role in increasing the vulnerability of Humboldt penguins.
Previously described pathological alterations are enough to generate abdominal pain, general discomfort, reduction of hunting performance, and an insufficient rate of feeding, amongst others, in living penguins. These instances have to be considered debilitating factors and promoters of immuno-suppression, hence, facilitators for infectious and non-infectious diseases in population.
For present cases, it is important to mention that the ulcerative lesions were not the cause of death, but the extreme undernourishment and dehydration determined the multisystem organ failure. It is linely that Contracaecum becomes a primary etiological agent causative of death if it pierce the stomach wall and induce peritonitis.
We think it's relevant to highlight the great number of questions generated while making this report and once it was finished. For example, how many Humboldt penguins die yearly by this parasitosis as primary disease? How many Humboldt penguins becomes "easy preys" for its natural predators due to weakness induced by this parasitosis? Are there important variations in the number of penguins affected by this disease throughout the year?
Does this parasitosis significantly affect the reproductive rate of S. We strongly believe that the effect of Contra-caecum in Humboldt penguins is an important factor that would impede the success of any enterprise for protecting these birds. Thus, research related to the incidence and prevalence of this parasite and the real impact of gastric ulceration on the penguin population is necessary in order to apply environmental and therapeutic strategies leading to the recovery of the species.
Anderson, T. Techniques for the preservation three-dimensional structure in preparing specimens for the electron microscope.
Cattan, P. The helminth fauna of Chile: IV. Wildlife Dis. Cranfield, M. In: M. Miller eds. Zoo and wild animals medicine. Saunders, Philadelphia, pp. Fagerholm, H-P. Ascaridoid nematodes: Contracaecum, Porrocaecum and Baylisascaris.
In: C. Atkinson, N. Hunter eds. Parasitic diseases of wild birds Atkinson. Contracaecum magnipapillatum Nematoda, Ascaridoidea : resurrection and pathogenic effects of a common parasite from the proventriculus of Anous minutus from the Great Barrier Reef, with a note on C.
Helminthologia, Fredes, F. Raffo, P. Garbin, L. Navone, J. Kinsella, J. Grabda, J. Marine fish parasitology.
Herling, C. Diet of the Humboldt penguin Spheniscus humboldti in northern and southern Chile.
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First pathological report of parasitic gastric ulceration in Humboldt penguin Spheniscus humboldti along the coast of south-central Chile. Corresponding to:. This report offers a macroscopic and histological description of ulcerative gastric lesions in Humboldt penguins associated with the presence of Contracaecum pelagicum. Parasites of this genus have been isolated from different species of marine mammals and birds, including penguins, demonstrating its capacity to generate ulcerative lesions in the gastrointestinal tracts of many hosts. A bibliographic review revealed no publications on gastric ulceration by nematodes in Humboldt penguins.