Spread of an avian eye fluke, Philophthalmus gralli, through biological invasion of an intermediate host.
Philophthalmus is a genus of globally distributed parasitic eye flukes with some members of the genus found in disparate locales. In particular, Philophthalmus gralli, a zoonotic trematode, appears to be a relatively new introduction to the Americas, facilitated by spillover from the invasive snails Melanoides tuberculata (red-rimmed melania) and Tarebia granifera (quilted melania), which were introduced via the aquarium trade, and perhaps furthered by avian dispersal. Given that two known intermediate hosts of Philophthalmus flukes are actively expanding their range as a result of human activities, we hypothesize that this spread is also associated with the spread of Philophthalmus flukes. To address this, we systematically reviewed the literature and examined whether the global expansion of P. gralli flukes is associated with the spread of invasive snails M. tuberculata and T. granifera. Here, we show that (1) specimens of P. gralli are only found in intermediate snail hosts M. tuberculata or T. granifera, suggesting intermediate host specificity for these 2 species, and (2) specimens of P. gralli have rarely been found outside the ranges (native and introduced) of M. tuberculata or T. granifera. Given the importance of distribution information of parasites in the role of identifying parasite invasions, we also review the known distribution of all Philophthalmus species. Considering recent outbreaks in humans and wild and domestic animal species, the continued spread of Philophthalmus presents a potential threat to veterinary and public health and conservation.