Helminth infections in faecal samples of Apennine wolf (Canis lupus italicus) and Marsican brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus) in two protected national parks of central Italy
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This article reports the results of a copromicroscopic and molecular investigation carried out on faecal samples of wolves (n=37) and brown bears (n=80) collected in two protected national parks of central Italy (Abruzzo Region). Twenty-three (62.2%) samples from wolves were positive for parasite eggs. Eight (34.78%) samples scored positive for single infections, i.e. E. aerophilus (21.74%), Ancylostoma/Uncinaria (4.34%), Trichuris vulpis (4.34%), T. canis (4.34%). Polyspecific infections were found in 15 samples (65.21%), these being the most frequent association: E. aerophilus and Ancylostoma/Uncinaria. Thirty-seven (46.25%) out of the 80 faecal samples from bears were positive for parasite eggs. Fourteen (37.83%) samples were positive for B. transfuga, and six (16.21%) of them also contained Ancylostoma/Uncinaria, one (2.7%) E. aerophilus and one (2.7%) both E. aerophilus and Ancylostoma/Uncinaria. Of the other samples, 19 (51.35%) were positive for Ancylostoma/Uncinaria, two (5.4%) for E. aerophilus and two (5.4%) for both. Molecular analysis found the roundworm and capillariid eggs found in wolves and bear samples to be Toxocara canis, Baylisascaris transfuga and Eucoleus aerophilus (syn. Capillaria aerophila). Considering the high prevalence of zoonotic intestinal helminths detected in this study, it is important to improve the knowledge and awareness of the general public and park operators regarding the potential health risk associated with infections in wildlife.