Author: Prof Joop Boomker

Infections of the cardiovascular system

Elaeophora sagitta (=Cordophilus sagittus) occurs in aneurisms in the coronary vessels (Fig. 23) as well as in the small branches of the pulmonary artery especially in the diaphragmatic lobes (Fig. 24). McCully, Van Niekerk, & Basson (1967) described the pathology of Elaeophora-infections in kudus, bushbuck and buffaloes and Pletcher, Boomker, De Vos & Gardiner (1989) those in kudus from the KNP. Lesions containing live and dead worms were found in bushbuck and kudus from the KNP, bushbuck and nyalas in the northern KZN Parks. The infection seems to occur primarily in the tragelaphine antelope, i.e. kudu, bushbuck and nyala, and rarely occur in buffaloes and cattle. According to Young & Basson (1976) nearly half of 33 eland transferred from the Addo Elephant National Park to the Kruger National Park died suddenly from acute cardiac arrest. Post-mortem examination revealed prominent heart lesions, notably subepicardial aneurysms, associated with the presence of Elaeophora sagitta. In the pulmonary arteries the worms cause a villous proliferation.

Fig. 23: An opened aneurism in a coronary vessel of a kudu. The rather large Elaeophora is visible at the left

Fig. 24: Elaeophora in the distal pulmonary artery, in the diaphragmatic lobe of a kudu. Note the villous proliferation in especially the top artery

Schistosoma spp. are common in those animals that are dependant on water, and have been recorded from baboons (Fig. 25), zebras, hippopotami, giraffes, buffaloes and al least 13 species of antelopes in southern Africa. According to Basson et al. (1970), lesions are particularly pronounced in the ‘river buffaloes’, the old bulls that have been expelled from a herd, in the KNP.  Severe phlebitis and thrombosis of the mesenteric veins was described in one of these buffaloes (Fig. 26). Eighteen of the 96 kudus examined (18.8%) in the KNP had schistosomes in the liver and mesenteric veins (Boomker et al., 1989b). The prevalence of Schistosoma in impalas from Malelane, KNP was 4.9% and that from the same antelopes from Skukuza, 11.5% (Boomker & Horak, unpublished data). Conversely, no schistosomes were recovered from impalas from Nylsvley (Horak, 1978), impalas from a farm in northern KwaZulu-Natal (Anderson, 1983) and reedbuck in the moist St Lucia area, KwaZulu-Natal (Boomker et al., 1989a).

Fig. 24: Granulomata caused by the eggs of a Schistosoma sp. In the rectum and bladder of a baboon

Fig. 25: Severe phlebitis and thrombosis of the mesenteric veins of a buffalo, caused by Schistosoma mattheei