Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Zoonotic Thelazia callipaeda eyeworm in Brown bears (Ursus arctos): a new host record in Europe.

Abstract

Thelazia callipaeda (Spirurida, Thelaziidae) eyeworm, a zoonotic parasite transmitted by lachryphagus drosophilids, causes subclinical to clinical ocular disease in a wide range of vertebrates, including humans. In the past 20 years, the infection spread primarily in areas where the vector thrives, and now is endemic in many European countries. Recently, this nematode has been reported also in the United States. Here, we describe the first record of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) as a host of T. callipaeda. Eight (26.7%) out of 30 bears were found to be infected with T. callipaeda adult worms. In addition, the parasite was detected in 13 wolves (Canis lupus) sharing the same environment with the brown bears. At the molecular characterization, all nematodes belonged to the haplotype 1, which is the only one recorded in Europe, as yet. This finding demonstrates that brown bears may act as hosts for this parasite, suggesting its potential role in the maintenance of the cycle not only in the wild but also in captivity. Under the above circumstances, the brown bear may represent a potential zoonotic risk for humans, both in rural and urban areas where other reservoirs may be infected.