Emerging Infectious Diseases (Aug 2016)

Possible Role of Fish and Frogs as Paratenic Hosts of Dracunculus medinensis, Chad

  • Mark L. Eberhard,
  • Michael J. Yabsley,
  • Hubert Zirimwabagabo,
  • Henry Bishop,
  • Christopher A. Cleveland,
  • John C. Maerz,
  • Robert Bringolf,
  • Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 8
pp. 1428 – 1430


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Copepods infected with Dracunculus medinensis larvae collected from infected dogs in Chad were fed to 2 species of fish and tadpoles. Although they readily ingested copepods, neither species of fish, Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) nor fathead minnow (Pimephalis promelas), were found to harbor Dracunculus larvae when examined 2–3 weeks later. Tadpoles ingested copepods much more slowly; however, upon examination at the same time interval, tadpoles of green frogs (Lithobates [Rana] clamitans) were found to harbor small numbers of Dracunculus larvae. Two ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) were fed fish or tadpoles that had been exposed to infected copepods. Only the ferret fed tadpoles harbored developing Dracunculus larvae at necropsy 70–80 days postexposure. These observations confirm that D. medinensis, like other species in the genus Dracunculus, can readily survive and remain infective in potential paratenic hosts, especially tadpoles.