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Internal parasites of possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) from Kawau Island, Chatham Island and Stewart Island

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As part of a search for pathogens that might be useful agents for biological control of possums, the three largest offshore islands of New Zealand that still have possums were surveyed to determine the pathogens present in these isolated populations. Brushtail possums from Kawau Island (n = 158), Chatham Island (n = 214) and Stewart Island (n = 194) were examined for internal parasites. Possums from Kawau Island were infected with Eimeria spp. (16.7%), Bertiella trichosuri (5.2%) and Purustrongyloides trichosuri (15.5%). No Paraustrostrongylus trichosuri or Trichostrongylus spp. were found. Possums from Chatham Island were infected with Eimeria spp. (10.9%). Bertiella trichosuri (3.6%), T colubriformis (6.6%), T retortaeformis (1%) and T. vitrinus (0.5%). No Parastrongyloides or Paraustrostrongylus spp. were found. Possums from Stewart Island were infected only with Eimeria spp. (4.6%). Because of their paucity of some parasites, the opportunity exists to use these offshore islands to study the introduction and spread of a parasite into a possum population, and what technology would be required to bring it to hyperendemicity.

Keywords: Gastrointestinal; Parasitology - internal; Possum

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: December 1, 1997

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