Widmer, C. E., & Azevedo, F. C. C. (2012). Tungiasis in a free-ranging jaguar (Panthera onca) population in Brazil. Parasitology Research, 110(3), 1311–1314.
Tungiasis is an ectoparasitic disease caused by fleas of the genus Tunga. The disease is reported to occur mostly in human populations. In wildlife, however, the occurrence and impact of this disease remains uncertain. We captured and examined 12 free-ranging jaguars for the presence of Tunga penetrans in the Pantanal region of Mato Grosso do Sul state, Brazil. Tungiasis prevalence was 100% in the population; lesions were confined to the jaguar’s paws. T. penetrans was identified based on the characteristics of the embedded fleas and the morphological identification of a collected free-living flea. The intensity and stage of infestation varied between individual animals. However, in general, all captured jaguars were in good health. The 100% prevalence of tungiasis may be related to the fact that all captures were performed during the dry season. Their high ecological requirements for space make jaguars potential disseminators of T. penetrans in the Pantanal region. Because cattle ranching and ecotourism are the main economic activities in the Pantanal, further studies should evaluate the risks of tungiasis to human and animal health. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of tungiasis in jaguars.