Cases of fasciolosis in ruminants have been recorded in several French farms in the absence of Lymnaea truncatula, which is considered the only snail intermediate host in western Europe. These farms harbored other species of freshwater snails in large numbers (Lymnaea glabra, Physa acuta, or Planorbis leucostoma) and, in many cases, had cattle or sheep infected by another trematode (Paramphistomum daubneyi). These other freshwater snails may serve as intermediate hosts for F. hepatica due to a coexisting infection with P. daubneyi. We have demonstrated that L. glabra, either infected with F. hepatica alone or coinfected by P. daubneyi, was capable of developing a F. hepatica infection. A broader range of L. glabra size classes (up to 10 mm in height) were susceptible to infection if simultaneously infected with P. daubneyi. Planorbis leucostoma can only serve as an intermediate host for F. hepatica, if infected with P. daubneyi. Lastly, P. acuta smaller than 4 mm cannot serve as an intermediate host. These results may explain, in part, the maintenance of low-level F. hepatica infections in the absence of the normal intermediate host, L. truncatula.
Natural infections of three freshwater snails withFasciola hepaticaand/orParamphistomum daubneyiwere studied during two periods in 1996 and 1997 (June–July and September–October) on 18 farms located in the departments of Vienne and Haute Vienne (central France), and known for low prevalences ofF. hepaticainfections in ruminants. A total of 1573Lymnaea glabraand 1421L. truncatula6 mm high or more were collected in the meadows of 13 farms and dissected under laboratory conditions. Snails with single or concurrent infections ofF. hepaticaand/orP. daubneyiwere found for eachLymnaeaspecies. InL. truncatula, global prevalences of natural infections withF. hepatica(3.8% in June–July, and 3.6% in September–October) were significantly greater than those recorded forP. daubneyi(1.1% and 0.8%, respectively). InL. glabra, global prevalences ofF. hepaticainfections (0.4% in each investigation period) were significantly lower than those found inL. truncatula, whereas there were no significant differences between prevalences ofP. daubneyiinfections. A total of 2721Planorbis leucostomameasuring at least 4 mm in diameter were collected in the meadows of the other five farms on whichL. truncatulawas absent. In these planorbids, global prevalences of natural infections withF. hepaticawere 0.4% in each period of investigation. Contrary to fasciolosis, snail infections withP. daubneyiwere not noted on all farms of the Vienne and Haute-Vienne departments. Natural single or concurrent infections withF. hepaticaand/orP. daubneyiinL. glabraand a natural infection ofP. leucostomawithF. hepaticawere found in swampy meadows on acid soil.
The development of redial burden and cercarial shedding were studied in two groups of Lymnaea truncatula subjected to successive cross-exposures to one miracidium of Paramphistomum daubneyi and one of Fasciola hepatica per snail, or vice versa. The results were compared with those obtained in controls subjected to two unimiracidial exposures to the same trematode species. The infection rate was 61% in the group cross-exposed to P. daubneyi/F. hepatica and 37% in that cross-exposed to F. hepatica/P. daubneyi; it was 37% in the control group exposed to F. hepatica and 21% in that exposed to P. doubneyi. Snails harboring larval forms of both trematodes were few in number in cross-exposed groups and the redial burden was low, with one trematode dominating over the other. Free cercariae of F. hepatica and those of P. daubneyi were significantly more numerous at day 35 in the group cross-exposed to P. daubneyi/F. hepatica than in the controls or the other cross-exposed group. Mixed cercarial sheddings were obtained from 40% of snails with emission in the group cross-exposed to P. daubneyi/F. hepatica and from 21% of those in the F. hepatica/P. daubneyi group. The numbers of P. daubneyi metacercariae were significantly greater in the group cross-exposed to P. daubneyi/F. hepatica than in the other cross-exposed group, whereas no significant difference in mean numbers was noted for the F. hepatica cysts. Repartition of metacercariae over the patent period was clearly more irregular for P. daubneyi than for the other trematode.
Two experiments using seven populations of Galba truncatula were carried out to analyse the effect of food quality (cos lettuce only, or cos lettuce+Tetraphyll) on the characteristics of infections: (1) in a single population of G. truncatula infected by one of three digenea (first experiment), and (2) in seven populations of G. truncatula differing in their susceptibility to Fasciola hepatica miracidia (second experiment). In most groups, food quality did not have a significant effect on the survival of snails. The prevalence of infection in five populations was significantly higher in snails raised on lettuce+Tetraphyll (first and second experiments), whereas it was close to those noted in lettuce only-reared groups in the last two populations (second experiment). Despite the higher growth of cercariae-shedding snails when raised on the mixed diet, no significant differences were noted. Significant effects of parasite species (first experiment) and of snail population (second experiment) on the life-spans of cercariae-shedding snails were noted, whereas food quality did not influence this parameter. Except for a single snail population, cercarial production in groups raised on lettuce+Tetraphyll was significantly higher than that in groups on lettuce. The variability noted in the prevalence of snail infections and in the intensity of cercarial shedding might be explained by differences in the susceptibility of snail populations to F. hepatica infections, and/or by the fact that Tetraphyll would not have the same appetency for all populations of G. truncatula.
Single-miracidium infections of Lymnaea truncatula by Fasciola hepatica were experimentally carried out to identify the redial generations of this trematode when the larval development was unusual (when the first-appearing mother redia, or R1a redia, died after its exit from the sporocyst). Four parameters were measured in the body and pharyngeal region at weekly intervals. At day 49 post-exposure at 20°C, the body of the second mother rediae (R1b) was significantly longer than that of the subsequent generations, R2a and R2b/R3a (a mean of 3.0 mm instead of 1.0 and 0.9 mm, respectively). The body was significantly wider in the R1b and R2a groups than in the R2b/R3a rediae. The pharyngeal lumen was significantly wider in the R1b group than in the R2a and R2b/R3a rediae (a mean of 48.6 μm instead of 10.8 and 3.3 μm at day 49). The thickness of the pharyngeal wall did not differ in the R1b and R2b/R3a groups, but was significantly lower in the R2a group (19.5 μm instead of 23.0-23.6 at day 49). There was better development of R1b and R2b/R3a rediae in the snails when the R1a redia died, compared with normal larval development (with a living R1a redia).
Preadult Lymnaea glabra measuring 4-6 mm in height were each exposed to 1 Paramphistomum daubneyi miracidium before being exposed to 1 miracidium of Fasciola hepatica. Total prevalence of infection in the snail groups from 3 different populations ranged from 33% to 39%. In each group, snails harboring larval forms of P. daubneyi, F. hepatica, or both, were noted. If the results from the 3 snail populations are pooled, the total prevalence of snail infection was 13.6% in snails harboring only F. hepatica larvae, 13% in those harboring only P. daubneyi larvae, and 10% in those with both trematodes. Cercarial shedding was obtained from snails harboring F. hepatica larval forms; in the case of snails infected with both trematodes, the mean number of metacercariae ranged from 13 to 21 for F. hepatica, and from 8 to 14 for P. daubneyi. No infected snails were found in snail groups exposed only to 1 trematode miracidia.
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