Professor Shokoofeh Shamsi leads Parasitology Research Group at Charles Sturt University. She has qualifications in medical and Veterinary Parasitology. She employs a different approach to assessing environmental, combining morphological and molecular techniques to identify parasites which then leads to investigating the drives behind their occurrence and distribution both in their hosts and in the aquatic systems. Shokoofeh has discovered over 30 new parasitic species and several invasive species in Australia.
Wildlife can act as important reservoirs in parasite transmission to livestock, domestic pets and humans. In Australia a well-known example is Echinococcus granulosus, the causative agent of hydatid disease in livestock and humans, which is now also firmly established in wild dogs (dingoes and dingo/domestic dog hybrids) and wildlife, especially, but not limited to, macropod marsupials. However, there are other parasites that are found in wildlife that have the potential to transfer into a domestic/rural life cycle, and potentially also into humans. We will take you on a journey where we discuss another zoonotic parasite that has been here since shortly after settlement, and had only been reported in Australia 10 times during the last 200 years and, until very recently, was regarded as a veterinary curiosity. This parasite is Linguatula serrata, commonly known as the tongue worm. Our research found adults up the noses of canids, vulpids and dasyurids (quolls) (the definitive hosts) and the nymphal stages in the mesenteric lymph nodes, the liver and lungs of a range of domestic and wild herbivorous species (the intermediate hosts), including rabbits, red-necked wallabies and cattle, as well as feral goats. We have not found the parasite in fallow or sambar deer or feral pigs (yet). All infected animals have come from areas along the Great Dividing Range. The question that arises from this research is: how many other “veterinary curiosities” are out there in our wildlife species that have the potential to be incorporated into a domestic/rural cycle or even into people? And,….. as veterinarians, what other parasites of importance do you think could be out there, especially those of you in a rural practice where dogs have the opportunity to feed on carrion or are fed offal from domestic or recreationally-hunted animals?
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