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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 133:217-245 (2019)  -  DOI:

Spirorchiidiasis in marine turtles: the current state of knowledge

Phoebe A. Chapman1,*, Thomas H. Cribb2, Mark Flint1,3, Rebecca J. Traub4, David Blair5, Myat T. Kyaw-Tanner1, Paul C. Mills1

1Veterinary-Marine Animal Research, Teaching and Investigation, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, Queensland 4343, Australia
2School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4067, Australia
3Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA
4Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia
5College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Blood flukes of the family Spirorchiidae are important disease agents in marine turtles. The family is near cosmopolitan in distribution. Twenty-nine marine species across 10 genera are currently recognized, but taxonomic problems remain and it is likely that more species will be discovered. Spirorchiids infect the circulatory system, where they and their eggs cause a range of inflammatory lesions. Infection is sometimes implicated in the death of the turtle. In some regions, prevalence in stranded turtles is close to 100%. Knowledge of life cycles, important for control and epidemiological studies, has proven elusive until recently, when the first intermediate host identifications were made. Recent molecular studies of eggs and adult worms indicate that a considerable level of intrageneric and intraspecific diversity exists. The characterization of this diversity is likely to be of importance in exploring parasite taxonomy and ecology, unravelling life cycles, identifying the differential pathogenicity of genotypes and species, and developing antemortem diagnostic tools, all of which are major priorities for future spirorchiid research. Diagnosis to date has been reliant on copromicroscopy or necropsy, which both have significant limitations. The current lack of reliable antemortem diagnostic options is a roadblock to determining the true prevalence and epidemiology of spirorchiidiasis and the development of effective treatment regimes.

KEY WORDS: Blood fluke · Spirorchiid · Spirorchiidiasis · Marine turtle

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Cite this article as: Chapman PA, Cribb TH, Flint M, Traub RJ, Blair D, Kyaw-Tanner MT, Mills PC (2019) Spirorchiidiasis in marine turtles: the current state of knowledge. Dis Aquat Org 133:217-245.

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