Date of this Version
Parasitologists have long studied helminth infections in wildlife species and have documented the existence of many organisms from a diversity of mammalian hosts. With this accumulation of information has come improved understanding of the significance of these organisms and the diseases they produce in their mammalian hosts. Some of the most notable examples include the metastrongyloid lungworms, Trichinella spiralis, and Elaeophora schneideri, which are covered separately in this volume. It is, however, for the group of parasites referred to as gastrointestinal nematodes that we have accumulated the most data. Only recently has progress been made in determining the significance of these strongylate nematodes with respect to their potential impact on the morbidity and mortality of the ruminants that they infect.
The accumulation of information on diseases of wild animals into a single combined volume has been slow, but progress has coincided with the proliferation of data for host and parasite interactions. Numerous references including Alaskan Wildlife Diseases (Dieterich 1981), Manual of Common Wildlife Diseases in Colorado (Adrian 1981), Field Manual of Wildlife Diseases in the Southeastern United States (Davidson and Nettles 1988), Zoo and Wildlife Medicine (Fowler 1993), and the previous editions of Parasitic Diseases of Wild Mammals (Davis and Anderson 1971) have all made significant contributions to our knowledge. Beyond North America, Dunn (1969) and Govorka et al. (1988) provided excellent compilations on the helminths in wild ruminants. In the 1971 printing of Parasitic Diseases of Mammals, however, there was no general coverage of gastrointestinal nematodes, and only T. spiralis was addressed. Herein, we present the first synoptic review of the strongylate nematodes that occur in the gastrointestinal system of wild ruminants from North America.