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Acta Parasitologica

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Volume 60, Issue 1


Parasite communities of the elongate tigerfish Hydrocynus forskahlii (Cuvier 1819) and redbelly tilapia Tilapia zillii (Gervais 1848) from Lake Turkana, Kenya: influence of host sex and size

Elick O. Otachi
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Vienna, Department of Integrative Zoology, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria
  • Egerton University, Biological Sciences Department, P. O. Box 536, Egerton, Kenya;
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Beata Szostakowska
  • Medical University of Gdansk, Department of Tropical Parasitology, ul. Powstania Styczniowego 9B, 81-519 Gdynia, Poland;
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Franz Jirsa
  • University of Vienna, Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria
  • University of Johannesburg, Dept. of Zoology, P. O. Box 524, Auckland Park B-2006, South Africa
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Christine Fellner-Frank
  • University of Vienna, Department of Integrative Zoology, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2014-12-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ap-2015-0002


Fish is an important food source for an estimated 300,000 people inhabiting the shores of Lake Turkana, Kenya. Despite its large size (7560 km2) and importance, the lake remains one of the least studied in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. This study describes the parasite community of the elongate tigerfish Hydrocynus forskahlii (Cuvier, 1819) and the redbelly tilapia Tilapia zillii (Gervais, 1848). A total of 87 individuals (43 H. forskahlii and 44 T. zillii) were dissected and examined for parasites. Two taxa infected H. forskahlii, the dominant one being an anisakid nematode Contracaecum sp. (L3) (P = 83.7%, mean intensity (MI) = 46.0, abundance (A) = 38.5). Twelve parasite taxa were recovered from T. zillii, with metacestodes of the gryporhynchid cestode Amirthalingamia macracantha being dominant (P = 79.5, MI = 10.3, A = 8.2). This was the first report of a mixture of merocercoids and plerocercoids in the same host. Fish size was positively correlated with the major parasite infection levels, but, the prevalence of Contracaecum sp. in H. forskahlii was negatively correlated with size, probably reflecting ontogenetic shifts in habitats and diets with age. Fish sex was not a significant influencing factor, with the exception of Contracaecum sp. in H. forskahlii, where prevalence differed significantly between sexes (p<0.05), with the females having a higher prevalence than the males. We conclude that H. forskahlii had a poor parasitic community but that the infection levels with Contracaecum sp. were high. T. zillii had a rich parasite fauna, although, most parasites occurred at low intensities.

Keywords: Lake Turkana; Hydrocynus forskahlii; Tilapia zillii; Contracaecum spp.; Amirthalingamia macracantha; parasites


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About the article

Received: 2014-04-16

Revised: 2014-06-23

Accepted: 2014-08-12

Published Online: 2014-12-30

Published in Print: 2014-03-01

Citation Information: Acta Parasitologica, Volume 60, Issue 1, Pages 9–20, ISSN (Online) 1896-1851, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ap-2015-0002.

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