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First report of Trypanosoma vegrandis in koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Amanda Barbosa1, 2*, Jill Austen1, Amber Gillett3, 4, Kristin Warren1, Andrea Paparini1, Peter Irwin1 and Una Ryan1

School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Perth, WA 6150

CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil, Brasília – DF 70040-020, Brazil

The Australia Zoo Hospital, Beerwah, Qld 4519

4 School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072

ABSTRACT

The present study describes the first report of Trypanosoma vegrandis in koalas using morphology and sequence analysis of the 18S rRNA gene. The prevalence of T. vegrandis in koalas was 13.6% (6/44). It is likely that the small size of T. vegrandis (<10 µm in length), coupled with the difficulties in amplifying DNA of this parasite in mixed infections using trypanosome generic primers, are the reason why this organism has not been identified in koalas until now. This study highlights the importance of further research comprising a larger sample size to determine the prevalence of T. vegrandis in koalas as well as its potential impacts upon this marsupial species’ health.