Ten muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) each were infected with 17,000 eggs (long-term study) and eight muskrats each were infected with 8,000 eggs (short-term study) of Capillaria hepatica (Nematoda). Food intake, body weight, and selected clinicopathological parameters were measured every 2 days for 28 days in the short-term study and every 14 days for 184 days in the long-term study. Muskrats in the short-term study had moderate to severe necrotizing granulomatous hepatitis associated with mild anorexia and weight loss, varying degrees of leukocytosis with eosinophilia and elevation of serum alanine and aspartate aminotransferases. No significant changes in packed cell volume, hemoglobin, total plasma protein, albumin, blood urea nitrogen, bilirubin, lactate dehydrogenase or alkaline phosphatase were found among animals from the short-term study. Muskrats in the long-term study had severe necrotizing granulomatous hepatitis associated with marked anorexia, weight loss and 60% mortality over 39 days post-inoculation (PI); animals that survived for 184 days did not return to pre-inoculation body weights despite returning to normal food intake. Hepatic lesions at 184 days PI consisted of minimal to severe liver replacement by C. hepatica eggs. No statistically significant differences in values of clinical parameters between inoculated animals and a non-inoculated control group from the long term study were found.
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Vol. 33 • No. 1