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Molecular Characterization of the North American Lung Fluke Paragonimus kellicotti in Missouri and its Development in Mongolian Gerbils

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  • Infectious Diseases Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
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Human paragonimiasis is an emerging disease in Missouri. To characterize local parasites, we examined crayfish from three rivers. Metacercaeriae consistent with Paragonimus kellicotti were detected in 69%, 67%, and 37% of crayfish from the Big Piney, Huzzah, and Black Rivers, respectively. Sequencing of the second internal transcribed spacer and other DNA markers confirmed the species identification and the presence of identical parasite sequences in clinical specimens from two human cases. Mongolian gerbils were infected by intraperitoneal injection with 3–8 metacercariae. Most gerbils died 15–49 days post-infection. Necropsies showed pulmonary hemorrhage with necrosis, and flukes as long as 8 mm were recovered from intrathoracic tissues. Western blot analysis using P. kellicotti antigen showed a strong antibody response in gerbils 39 days post-infection. These results demonstrate that P. kellicotti is common in Missouri crayfish. The gerbil model may be useful for research on the pathogenesis, immunology, and treatment of paragonimiasis.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Peter U. Fischer, Infectious Diseases Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110. E-mail: pufische@dom.wustl.edu

Financial support: The study was supported by a grant from the Barnes Jewish Hospital Foundation.

Authors' address: Peter U. Fischer, Kurt C. Curtis, Luis A. Marcos, and Gary J. Weil, Infectious Diseases Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, E-mails: pufische@dom.wustl.edu, kcurtis@dom.wustl.edu, lmarcos@dom.wustl.edu, and gweil@dom.wustl.edu.

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