Parasites with complex life cycles engaging multiple host species living among different environments well-exemplify the value of a cross-cutting One Health approach to understanding fundamental concerns like disease emergence or spread. Here we provide new information regarding a pathogenic schistosome trematode parasite of both wild and domestic mammals that has recently expanded its known range from mesic/wet environments of the southeastern United States to the arid southwest. In 2018, 12 dogs living near a man-made pond in Moab, Utah, were found positive for Heterobilharzia americana, the most westerly report of this endemic North American schistosome, and the first from Utah. Raccoon scats collected near the pond were positive for H. americana eggs, and snails living near the pond's water line identified as Galba humilis shed H. americana cercariae, the first indication of natural infections in this widespread North American snail species. The susceptibility of G. humilis to H. americana was confirmed experimentally. Our studies support the existence of two variants of H. americana and emphasize the need for further investigations of lymnaeids and their compatibility with H. americana, to better define the future potential for its spread. Capture of a new species of intermediate host vector snail and construction of man-made habitats suitable for this snail have created the potential for a much more widespread animal health problem, especially for dogs and horses. H. americana will prove difficult to control because of the role of raccoons in maintaining transmission and the amphibious habits of the snail hosts of this pathogenic schistosome.
Loker, Eric S.; Dolginow, Scott Z.; Pape, Suzanne; Topper, Colin D.; and DeJong, Randall J., "An outbreak of canine schistosomiasis in Utah Acquisition of a new snail host (Galba humilis) by Heterobilharzia americana, a pathogenic parasite on the move" (2021). University Faculty Publications and Creative Works. 146.