Recent studies in Vietnam and other Asian countries have shown that fish-borne zoonotic intestinal trematodes (FZT) occur very frequently in humans. The dominant intestinal FZT in Vietnamese fish are species of Haplorchis, in particular H. pumilio. However, basic studies on the biology and pathology of adult H. pumilio are difficult because of the lack of a standardized experimental animal model. The objective of this study was to establish and optimize such an animal-infection model for H. pumilio. Using metacercariae isolated from naturally infected fish, experiments were conducted to identify a suitable experimental animal host species, as well as the optimum metacercariae infection dose, and to determine the post-infection interval for patency. In a series of experiments, mice (Mus musculus) and chickens (Gallus gallus dom.) were infected with different numbers of metacercariae, and worm recoveries were made at varying intervals post-infection (PI). Based on the mean number of adult flukes recovered/number of metacercariae inoculated and the percent of hosts infected, mice were significantly more susceptible to infection than were chickens. The proportion of metacercariae developing to the adult stage increased with dose size. The peak worm recovery (geometric mean) was found to be day 7, although not all recovered flukes were gravid until day 9 PI. These results describe a mouse infection model with good predictability for intestinal flukes, such as H. pumilio, results which could facilitate investigations on important biological and pathological aspects of intestinal fluke infections.
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