The Wolf (Canis lupus) as an Indicator Species for the Sylvatic Trichinella Cycle in the Central Balkans
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Wildlife is the most important reservoir of Trichinella spp. worldwide. Although the Balkans are a recognized European endemic region for Trichinella infections, data on wildlife are scarce. To monitor the circulation of these zoonotic parasites in the Central Balkan region, the wolf (Canis lupus) was selected because of its abundance (>2,000 individuals) and because it is at the top of the food chain. A total of 116 carcasses of wolves were collected in Serbia and in the neighboring areas of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (B\&H) between 2006 and 2013. Trichinella spp. larvae were found in 54 (46.5\%) wolves. The great majority (90.5\%) originated from Serbia, where 52 of the 105 examined animals were Trichinella positive (49.5\%; 95\% confidence interval =39.9-59.1). One positive animal each was found in B\&H and Macedonia. All larvae were identified as Trichinella britovi. The high prevalence of Trichinella infection in wolves suggests that this carnivore can be a good indicator species for the risk assessment of the sylvatic Trichinella cycle in the Central Balkans.