Mountain hares (Lepus timidus) and brown hares (Lepus europaeus) shot by hunters in several game management districts in southern and central Finland during the hunting season from September to the end of February 1998–2001 were examined for Protostrongylus sp. and Pneumocystis sp. Of the mountain hares, 96.5% (194/201) were infected with the lungworm Protostrongylus sp. and 16.9%(32/189) had cyst forms of the fungus Pneumocystis sp. in the lungs. The prevalence of the lungworm and fungus in brown hares was 60% (18/30) and 20.0% (6/30), respectively. The tissue changes associated with the lungworms were macroscopically and microscopically well demarcated. The majority and most severe histopathologic changes were seen at the distal part of the caudal lobes. Inflammatory cells, mainly eosinophils and macrophages, and in lesser degree neutrophils, lymphocytes, and plasma cells were typical findings in the worm-infected tissue. The condition and weight of the hare did not show any significant association with the intensity of the lungworm infection. All Pneumocystis-infected mountain hares were young, and their condition and weight correlated negatively with the intensity of the infection. The intensity of the Pneumocystis infection did not correlate with that of the lungworm infection. Within a tissue section, a slight but significant positive correlation was observed between presence of cysts and inflammatory cells.
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Vol. 42 • No. 4