Transmammary transmission of Troglostrongylus brevior feline lungworm: a lesson from our gardens

Marcos Antônio Bezerra-Santos, Jairo Alfonso Mendonza-Roldan, Francesca Abramo, Riccardo Paolo Lia, Viviana Domenica Tarallo, Harold Salant, Emanuele Brianti, Gad Baneth, Domenico Otranto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Feline lungworms such as Aerulostrongylus abstrusus and Troglostrongylus brevior are snail-borne pathogens causing respiratory disease in domestic cats. Paratenic hosts such as rodents and reptiles have also been implicated in the epidemiology of these parasites. Although A. abstrusus has been recognized for a long time as the most prevalent lungworm among cats worldwide, T. brevior is of major concern in kittens. Bearing in mind that disease due to T. brevior occurs mainly in pediatric patients younger than 6 months of age, the diagnosis of this parasite in two kittens presenting severe respiratory disease from the garden of one of the authors inspired us to investigate the potential routes of transmission for T. brevior in domestic cats. Of the three queens (A, B and C) that delivered kittens (n = 8), only cat A was positive for T. brevior, presenting her two kittens severe respiratory clinical signs, which lead to the exitus in one of them, 18 days of age. In addition, three kittens, the offspring of queen B, turned to be positive at the coprological examination after suckling from queen A, whereas those from queen C (that suckled only on their own mother) remained negative. A series of coprological, histological and molecular tests were conducted to confirm the presence of T. brevior in the patients as well as in the other cats cohabiting the same garden. Adult nematodes were retrieved from the trachea and bronchi of the dead kitten (kitten 1A), and larvae at the histology of the lung and liver parenchyma associated with bronco pneumonitis and lymphocytic pericholangitis, respectively. Cornu aspersum (n = 60), Eobania vermiculata (n = 30) snails (intermediate hosts) as well as lizards and rats (potential paratenic hosts) were collected from the same garden and processed through tissue digestion and molecular detection. Troglostrongylus brevior larvae were recovered through tissue digestion from two C. aspersum (3.33 %) and it was confirmed by PCR-sequencing approach, which also detected T. brevior DNA in the liver and lungs of one rat and in the coelomatic cavity of one gecko lizard. During the COVID-19 lockdown, when scientists spent more time at home, we grasp the opportunity to decipher T. brevior biology and ecology starting in a small ecological niche, such as the garden of our house. Data herein presented led us to suggest: i) the transmammary transmission of T. brevior in domestic cats; ii) the role of intermediate and paratenic hosts (including reptiles) in the epidemiology of the infection which they transmit; as well as iii) the importance of observational parasitology in studying any event that certainly occurs in small ecological niches, as it could be in our home gardens.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number109215
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Aelurostrongylus abstrusus
  • Feline lungworms
  • Intermediate hosts
  • Lizards
  • Paratenic hosts
  • Snails
  • Transmammary transmission
  • Troglostrongylus brevior


Dive into the research topics of 'Transmammary transmission of Troglostrongylus brevior feline lungworm: a lesson from our gardens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this