The occurrence of Trichinella zimbabwensis in naturally infected wild crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) from the Kruger National Park, South Africa

19 Apr 2013

Trichinella zimbabwensis has been found naturally infecting crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ethiopia and South Africa, as well as monitor lizards (Varanus niloticus) in Zimbabwe. The reports on natural infections were mostly accidental rather than structured surveys and involved very few animals. Previous surveillance studies in South Africa reported a 38.5% prevalence of T. zimbabwensis among wild crocodiles tested from the Mpumalanga province and Kruger National Park (KNP). No studies have been conducted to date on the geographical distribution and occurrence of T. zimbabwensis in wild crocodiles and varans in countries in southern Africa. Recent outbreaks of pansteatitis in crocodile populations of the KNP, South Africa, provided an opportunity to conduct a more structured survey aimed at elucidating the occurrence and distribution of T. zimbabwensis in culled wild crocodile populations within the KNP. Results from this study showed that T. zimbabwensis occurred in 10 out of 12 culled crocodiles form the KNP. The results also showed that the natural distribution of T. zimbabwensis in crocodiles includes all the major river systems in the KNP. The predilection sites of larvae in muscles followed a different pattern in naturally infected crocodiles compared to observations in experimentally infected mammalian hosts.