The aim of this work was to perform a systematic study to detect and quantify the digenetic trematode infections in South American sea lions from the southern Brazilian coast. Twenty-four South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens (Carnivora: Otaridae), were found dead along the coast of Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil, between June 2010 and September of 2011. Two trematode species were found in the intestines of O. flavescens, i.e., Stephanoprora uruguayense (Digenea: Echinostomatidae) and Ascocotyle (Phagicola) longa (Digenea: Heterophyidae). Ascocotyle (P.) longa reached a prevalence of 33.3% and mean intensity of 248,500, whereas S. uruguayense showed a prevalence of 4.2% and mean intensity of 202. The 2 trematode species infecting sea lions were likely transmitted by feeding on mullets, Mugil platanus, that commonly harbor heterophyid metacercariae. The present work is the first report of digenetic trematodes infecting O. flavescens in Brazil. The high prevalence and mean intensity values of the 2 trematode species infecting sea lions in the present study suggest caution in human consumption of mullets and other fish, which can be infected with the metacercariae of these trematodes known to have zoonotic potential.
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Vol. 99 • No. 5