Aprocta cylindrica (Nematoda) Infection in a European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) in Britain

Katie Beckmann, Eileen Harris, Ann Pocknell, Shinto K John, Shaheed K Macgregor, Andrew A. Cunningham , Becki Lawson

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A European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) found dead in England had marked blepharitis and periocular alopecia associated with Aprocta cylindrica (Nematoda: Aproctidae) and concurrent mixed fungal infections. Aprocta cylindrica should be considered a differential diagnosis in periocular abnormalities of robins and other insectivorous, migratory passerines in Western Europe.
The European Robin (hereafter referred to as ‘robin,’ Erithacus rubecula, Order Passeriformes) is a common garden visitor in Britain (Mead 1984). Periocular alopecia has been reported, anecdotally, to be common in British robins (Mead 1984), and dermatophyte infection (of undetermined species) has been diagnosed in at least three cases (Mead 1984; V. Simpson and B.L. unpubl. data). Other pathogens with the potential to cause periocular disease in passerines include avipoxvirus, Mycoplasma and Chlamydia spp. (Thomas et al. 2007), Collyriclum faba (Trematoda; Literák et al. 2003), and Oxyspirura spp. (Nematoda: Thelaziidae) such as Oxyspirura petrowi, which has been detected in robins in Central Europe (Okulewicz 1984).
A dead adult male robin was submitted from a rural garden in Lincolnshire, eastern England (52°58′N, 0°30′W), in early May 2011. A postmortem examination was performed using standardized protocols (Lawson et al. 2012). The robin was moderately autolyzed and in thin body condition (bodyweight 18.9 g; the average bodyweight of 11 adult British robins in normal or fat body condition, received from 2005–12, was 20.1 g [B.L., K.M.B. unpubl. data]). The cause of death was judged to be trauma consistent with cat predation (missing feathers, penetrating wounds, fractures, and hemorrhage). In addition, the left eyelids were markedly swollen and alopecic (Fig. 1) with superficial dry, yellow material. The right eyelids were slightly swollen. In the left periocular subcutaneous space there was bright yellow, semifluid material and 10–15 cream-colored, threadlike nematodes. The small intestine contained approximately 20 acanthocephalan helminths with no associated gross lesions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


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