U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 2015, Vol. 27(2) 241– 244


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Rats (Rattus spp.) are among the most damaging invasive species worldwide. The accidental introduction of rats has caused significant detriment to native flora and fauna, crops, structures, and human livelihoods. Rats are vectors of disease and carriers of various zoonotic parasites. Capillaria hepatica (syn. Callodium hepaticum) is a parasitic nematode found primarily in rodents but is known to infect over 140 mammal species, including human beings and several species of domestic animals. In this case study, the presence of C. hepatica infection in black rats on Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, is reported. Liver samples from 20 black rats (Rattus rattus) were collected during a concurrent population density estimation study. Histology revealed 15 (75%) of the rats sampled had a current or previous infection with C. hepatica. In addition, a larval cestode compatible in size and shape with Cysticercus fasciolaris, the larval stage of Taenia taeniaeformis of cats, was found in 3 (15%) of the rats sampled. The high prevalence of C. hepatica infection in rats on Diego Garcia has implications for human health given the high population density of rats found on the island.

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