Presence of Paragonimus westermani in Free-Ranging Leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) in Sri Lanka
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2013
B.V.P. Perera1, BVSc, MSc, DESMAN; R.P.V.J. Rajapakse2, BVSc, PhD
1Department of Wildlife Conservation, Elephant Transit Home, Udawalawe, Sri Lanka; 2Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Peradeniya, Kandy, Sri Lanka


Lung flukes, of the genus Paragonimus, are a pathogenic agent of human paragonimiasis, one of the medically important food-borne trematoda diseases in tropical, subtropical, and some temperate countries. This infection is often confused diagnostically with tuberculosis. The prevalence of human paragonimiasis is currently estimated at 20 million. To date, four species of Paragonimus have been reported in Sri Lanka and are identified, based on the morphological features of adult flukes, such as the branching pattern of ovaries and the arrangement of cuticular spines. Humans and other mammals become infected by eating raw or undercooked crayfish or freshwater crabs that harbor the parasites. Paragonimiasis most frequently involves the lungs, but can affect other organs, including the brain and skin. In this investigation, we examined the prevalence of Paragonimus worms in the lungs of free-ranging leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) in Sri Lanka. The eight animals examined originated from different areas of the country. The causes of death of these animals included health complications associated with noose trapping (n=2), gunshot (n=1), vehicle collision (n=1), and intraspecies trauma (n=4). Worms were identified in the lungs and determined to be Paragonimus westermani. Infected animals originated from the Nawalapitiya and Yala National Park indicating the worm has widely distributed. This is the first report of Paragonimus among free-ranging leopards of Sri Lanka. Further studies are currently underway to determine the prevalence and mode of transmission in leopards, and its zoonotic importance in Sri Lanka.


Speaker Information
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B.V.P. Perera, BVSc, MSc, DESMAN
Elephant Transit Home
Department of Wildlife Conservation
Udawalawe, RN, Sri Lanka

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