A large-scale study of the Trichinella genus in the golden jackal (Canis aureus) population in Serbia
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Over the last decades the golden jackal (Canis aureus) has significantly expanded its range throughout Southeast and Central Europe, and the Balkan Peninsula is considered to be a core area of the species distribution in this part of the range. Due to its increasing number, ability of long distance movement through a wide range of landscapes and opportunistic feeding habits, the golden jackal may represent an important reservoir and transmitter of a variety of zoonotic agents, including parasites. The Balkans, Serbia included, remain an endemic area for various zoonotic parasites including Trichinella spp. Trichinella has recently been recorded in jackals in Serbia, which prompted us to carry out a large-scale survey of its prevalence, distribution and species identification in this host. In cooperation with local hunters, carcasses of a total of 738 legally hunted golden jackals were collected at 24 localities over an 11-year period (2003-2013). Analysis of tongue base tissue revealed Trichinella larvae in 122, indicating a prevalence of infection of 16.5\%. No difference in the prevalence of infection was found between genders 116.2\% in males and 16.9\% in females (chi(2) = 0.05, p = 0.821)], or among the study years (G = 7.22, p = 0.705). Trichinella larvae were found in 13 out of the 24 examined localities. Molecular identification was performed for 90 isolates, and 64(71.1\%) larvae were identified as Trichinella spiralis and 25(27.9\%) as Trichinella britovi. Mixed infection (T. spiralis and T. britovi) was recorded in a single case. Although T. spiralis was more prevalent, T. britovi had a wider distribution, and was the only recorded species in jackal populations from the mountainous region of eastern Serbia. On the other hand, T. spiralis was dominant in jackals in the lowlands of central and northern Serbia, where domestic pigs are mostly reared. These results show that the golden jackal is involved in both the domestic and sylvatic cycle, and that it has emerged as a major host species in the sylvatic cycle of the Trichinella genus. Therefore, continued monitoring of Trichinella infection in golden jackals in Serbia and the whole of the Balkans is recommended in order to control transmission of this parasite to humans and domestic animals. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.