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Veterinary/zoology session

Study on the infection of the Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) with intestinal helminths in Hungary
Kreizinger Zsuzsa - year 5
SzIE, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Department of Parasitology and Zoology
Supervisor: Éva Fok DVM


The Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra Linnaeus, 1758) is a very sensitive species to the environmental changes and to human intervention, therefore its status is near extinction. The protection of this animal may help in the conservation of its natural habitats and of the endangered animals with whom it shares these areas.

This study is part of the post mortem examinations of the Eurasian Otter in Hungary .It was started in 2002 at the University of Kaposvár, under the supervision of József Lanszki, Dr. No such parasitologic examination has ever been recorded in Hungary before.

A total of 57 intestinal samples (from duodenum to rectum) from otters were examined by stereomicroscope, and the intestinal contents were examined by sedimentation (Benedek) and flotation (Breza) methods. The samples were provided by nine Hungarian national parks where otters were found dead, usually in fields ,or were killed on the roads. The viscera of all specimens were frozen at -18°C, after the dissection of the bodies. For the parasitologic examinations, at the Faculty of Veterinarian Science, the intestines were thawed at 4°C. All helminths were collected and stained in Grenacher’s alum-carmine, dehydrated in ethanol, cleared in methyl-salicylate and mounted in Euparal. The identification of the helminths caused some difficulties because the helminths had been macerated.

30% (18 otters) of the 57 samples were proved to be infected. Three types of trematodes were found in 10 (55,5%) otters, three types of acanthocephalans in other 7 (38,8%) animals, and a nematode in 1 (5,5%) otter, which was infected with trematodes as well.

The comparison of these results with the data of publications in foreign countries reveals that in the western areas of Europe nematodes (Eucoleus schvalovoj, Strongyloides lutrae) are the dominant helminths, whereas in Central and Eastern Europe trematodes (Isthmiophora melis, Euryhelmis squamula, Euparyphium melis) are the most frequent helminths in the alimentary tract of the otters. Fish preys of the otters are usually responsible for the findings of acanthocephalans in this mammal. Further examinations can be expected.

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