First molecular description of Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus in wild boars from Italy with pathomorphological and epidemiological insights

Giorgia Dessì, Pierangela Cabras, Naunain Mehmood, Fahad Ahmed, Francesca Porcu, Vincenzo Veneziano, Giovanni Pietro Burrai, Claudia Tamponi, Antonio Scala, Antonio Varcasia

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus is a zoonotic parasite affecting suids worldwide which are the definitive hosts for this helminth species. Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus is of significant economic and management concern due to its pathogenicity, causing intestinal obstruction and perforation in the definitive hosts. Current study is the preliminary investigation from Sardinia, Italy, reporting the pathomorphological findings and molecular characterization of M. hirudinaceus in the wild boars (Sus scrofa meridionalis). A total of 59 wild boars were examined showing acanthocephalan infection in 8 (13.6%) animals. In total, 49 parasites were collected with a mean intensity of 6.1. Comparatively higher infection levels were observed for males (16.7%) and young boars (14.3%); however, these epidemiological differences were statistically non-significant. Histopathological examination revealed the presence of a variable number of nodules (∼5 mm) in the intestine of M. hirudinaceus infested animals surrounded by a hyperemic-hemorrhagic halo. Several parasites were recovered from the intestinal lumen attached by the means of characteristic hooks showing necrosis in muscle layers. A moderate number of plump reactive fibroblasts and lesser numbers of fibrocytes were embedded with and at the borders of the inflammatory nodules in a moderate amount of homogeneous intensely eosinophilic fibrillary material rupturing the cell membrane. For molecular characterization, six isolated worms were amplified for the partial mitochondrial cox1 gene showing distinct interindividual variations. This first pathological and molecular description from southern Europe provided new knowledge about the diffusion of M. hirudinaceus in wild boars, furthering the research into the origin and transmission status of M. hirudinaceus in endemic localities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalParasitology Research
Early online date25 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jan 2022


  • Acanthocephala
  • Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus
  • Italy
  • mtDNA
  • cox1


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