Emerging myxosporean parasites of Australian frogs take a ride with fresh fruit transport
- Equal contributors
1 Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia
2 Bird & Exotics Veterinarian, Green Square, Waterloo, NSW, 2017, Australia
3 Present address: Institute of Parasitology, Biology Centre ASCR, Laboratory of Fish Protistology, Branišovská 31, České Budějovice, 370 05, Czech Republic
Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:208 doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-208Published: 24 September 2012
The spread of wildlife pathogens into new geographical ranges or populations is a conservation concern for endangered species. Cystodiscus australis and Cystodiscus axonis are two species of myxosporean parasites infecting Australian frogs and tadpoles that have been recently recognised as important disease agents impacting amphibian conservation. Yet despite their importance to wildlife health, the mechanism of emergence for these parasites is unknown. We hypothesise that these parasites are capable of being accidentally translocated with their amphibian hosts in fresh produce (agricultural, horticultural and industrial) shipments into naïve environments and host populations.
We surveyed 33 Australian “Banana box” frogs from Sydney fruit markets during 2011 using faecal smears and multiplex species specific PCR on DNA isolated from frog faeces or using histopathology to demonstrate the presence of both C. australis and C. axonis.
One of the “Banana box” frogs, the Dainty green tree frog (Litoria gracilenta) was positive for C. australis and C. axonis in its faeces and continuously shed the parasites for eight months.
We present a possible mechanism for the emergence of Cystodiscus parasites and a non-invasive screening method to be used as a diagnostic test. In the future, vigilance and communication between wildlife managers/researchers and veterinarians will provide valuable information about these parasites, their host range and true distribution. This will aid risk management assessments for threatened populations within the range of Cystodiscus parasites and ultimately enhance conservation efforts.