The geographic distribution and host range of Capillaria hepatica (Bancroft) (Nematoda) in Australia.
The geographic distribution, host range and prevalence of C. hepatica were recorded in 4629 house mice, 263 black rats (Rattus rattus) and 58 Norway rats (R. norvegicus). The parasite was found at 5 localities, all in or near large towns along the coast. The 2 Rattus species appeared to be the primary hosts of C. hepatica in Australia. Published and unpublished data on helminth infections of Australian native mammals from 1162 murids (26 species), 3018 marsupials (67 species) and 99 monotremes (2 species) were compiled. Only 7 animals from 3 murid species were infected with C. hepatica; all were from the same rainforest in northern Queensland. C. hepatica was distributed widely, occurring in the house mouse, black rat and Norway rat on a 10 850 ha farm but there was no infection in cattle, sheep or goats (abattoir records). Also, 52 rabbits, 4 cats and 1 fox (shot samples) and 27 marsupial mice (Sminthopsis crassicaudata, museum specimens), had no sign of C. hepatica infection. Overall, the results indicate that transmission of C. hepatica to native, domestic and feral mammals is rare, presumably because of ecological constraints on egg embryonation and survival. In the light of these findings, the potential use of C. hepatica as a biological agent to control mouse plagues in Australia is discussed.