The epidemiology of Trichinella spp. in their main sylvatic hosts, wild boar (Sus scrofa ferus and red fox (Vulpes vulpes), in Extremadura (southwestern Spain) was studied. We examined 88 Trichinella spp.-positive wild boar muscle-tissue samples from a total of 29,333 killed animals, referred to the Veterinary Parasitology Department (University of Extremadura, Spain) by the Extremadura Veterinary Service. Additionally, 227 red foxes killed during the hunting season and thus not subject to veterinary controls were examined for trichinellosis. Trichinella spp. larvae were found in six (3%) of the red foxes. All samples were examined using direct diagnostic techniques, including trichinoscopy and artificial digestion. The mean intensity of infection was 74.8 larvae/g (LPG) of muscle tissue in wild boars, compared to 30.6 LPG in foxes. Trichinella spiralis (sensu stricto) predominated over T. britovi in wild boars. Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and alloenzyme typing showed that 74% of infected wild boars had only T. spiralis, 21% had only T. britovi, and 5% showed mixed infections. In contrast, 33% of infected foxes were infected only with T. spiralis, while 67% had T. britovi, suggesting a clear predominance of the latter in foxes. We suspect the existence of a paranthropic or sylvatic cycle in large areas of this region; given the ease of transfer between sylvatic and domestic or semi-domestic animals, this implies a high epidemiological risk.

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