Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A regional study of the zoonotic broad tapeworm Dibothriocephalus spp. in northwestern Patagonia (Argentina): origin of fishes and coastal cities as factors affecting infection in fishes.

Abstract

Diphyllobothriosis was first recorded in humans in Argentina in 1892 and in introduced salmonids in 1952. The aim of this work is to assess factors influencing the values of prevalence and abundance of plerocercoids in fishes that could increase the risk of transmission of Dibothriocephalus spp. in Andean Patagonian lakes. We analysed two key issues potentially related to the occurrence of tapeworms in fish: the presence of cities on coastlines (as potential sources of eggs to nearby lakes) and the difference between native and exotic fishes in susceptibility to infection. We investigated the probability of finding parasites in fish, the variation in parasite abundance in different environments and the relationship between host length and occurrence of plerocercoids. A total of 3226 fishes (belonging to six autochthonous and four introduced species) were analysed between 2010 and 2019 in eight environments. Plerocercoids were counted, and a subset was determined molecularly to species level. Two species, Dibothriocephalus latus and Dibothriocephalus dendriticus, were identified from both salmonids and native fishes, this being the first molecular confirmation of these tapeworm species parasitizing native South American fishes. Salmonids had higher levels of infection than native fishes, and these levels were higher in aquatic environments with a city on their coastline. Transmission to humans seems to occur mainly through Oncorhynchus mykiss, which showed the highest infection values and is the species most captured by fishers. Based on previous data and the present results, eggs shed by humans, dogs and gulls in cities could be the principal factors in maintaining the life cycle of this parasite in surrounding aquatic environments.