ABSTRACT

During 2017–2018, a survey for the rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis (Nematoda: Metastrongyloidea), in rodents from Piedmont and Lower Coastal Plains physiographic regions of Georgia was conducted. On 4 occasions, a single worm was recovered from the pulmonary vessels of a single cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidis). One of these worms was identified as a Physaloptera sp. and the remaining 3 as a Mastophorus sp. by morphology. No A. cantonensis were found. Physaloptera (Nematoda: Physalopteroidea) and Mastophorus species (Nematoda: Spiruroidea) are stomach parasites of many wild and domestic animals. This is the first report of these species in the pulmonary vessels of a definitive host. To better characterize these parasites, representative specimens were collected from cotton rat stomachs and identified morphologically and molecularly. Based on partial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) gene sequences, Physaloptera hispida from stomachs were identical to the Physaloptera sp. from the pulmonary vessels. The COI sequences from the Mastophorus sp. from the stomach exhibited a higher degree of variability but confirmed that the pulmonary worms were the same Mastophorus species. Furthermore, sequences of Mastophorus from a coastal site clustered separately from a clade of Mastophorus sequences from cotton rats from a Piedmont site. Our data show that adult worms recovered from pulmonary vessels of cotton rats could be either Physaloptera or Mastophorus sp., indicating that these parasitic worms are not always restricted to the stomach and that worms from pulmonary vessels must be carefully examined to obtain a definitive diagnosis of A. cantonensis infection.

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