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Redescription of Eimeria bitis (Apicomplexa) from Bitis arietans (Serpentes) from Namibia, Africa.

ABSTRACT. -- Eimeria bitis Fantham, 1932 (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae), was found in the feces of a puff adder, Bitis arietans (Serpentes: Viperidae), from Namibia, southwest Africa. A redescription, line drawing, and photomicrograph of this coccidian are provided. Key words: Eimeria bitis; Bitis arietans; coccidia; puff adder; Namibia; Africa.


Fantham (1932) first described Eimeria bitis from the gall bladder and bile ducts of a single puff adder, Bitis arietans, near Cape Town, South Africa. Only a brief description of the oocysts was provided, and no photomicrographs or line drawings have ever been published.

During a herpetological collecting trip to Namibia, southwest Africa in May, 1992, feces were collected from two puff adders, Bitis arietans. Oocysts were placed in vials containing 2% (w/v) aqueous potassium dichromate solution and shipped to Kansas State University for diagnosis. Coccidian oocysts were observed in one sample, which were concentrated by flotation using an aqueous sucrose solution (specific gravity 1.30) and examined and photographed using Nomarski interference-contrast optics. Measurements were made using a calibrated ocular micrometer and are reported in micrometers as means, followed by the ranges in parenthesis. Oocysts were 6 weeks old at the time of examination.




Eimeria bitis Fantham, 1932

(Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) Figs. 1-4.

Oocysts cylindroidal, 35.4 X 18.5 (34-41 X 17-20) (N=25), often with one side flattened slightly; shape index (length/width) 1.91 (1.71-2.32). Oocyst wall smooth, composed of two layers each about 0.5 thick. Micropyle and oocyst residuum absent; single polar granule present, ellipsoidal or dumb-bell shaped, usually attached to inner surface of oocyst wall. Sporocysts ellipsoidal, 11.2 X 9.2 (10-12 X 8.5-10) (N=20), with smooth, thin, single-layered wall about 0.5 thick; shape index 1.22 (1.10-1.31). Sporocyst residuum spherical or subspherical, 5.6 X 5.4 (5-6.5 X 5-6.5) (N = 10), composed of many homogenous globules of various sizes. Sporozoites elongate, 12.5 X 2.6 (12-14 X 2.5-3) (N = 10) in situ, with posterior ends reflected back along one end of sporocyst. Sometimes transverse striations can be seen on sporozoites anteriorly. Each sporozoite with spherical or subspherical posterior refractile body, 2.5 X 2.3 (2-3 X 2-2.5) (N = 10), and single nucleus slightly posterior to midpoint of body.

Eimeria bitis Fantham, 1932 [syn. Choleoeimeria bitis (Fantham, 1932) Paperna and Landsberg, 1989] was described originally from a male puff adder near Cape Town, South Africa (Fantham, 1932). Oocysts were reported as 27.9-36.4 X 17.8-24.3 [micro]m, sporocysts from intact oocysts as spherical or subspherical, 6.5-11.4 [micro]m in diameter, sporocysts ruptured free of oocysts as ellipsoidal, 12.8-11.4 X 8.5-10 [micro]m, and free sporozoites 10-12 X 2.1-2.8 [micro]m. None of the other details provided above have been previously reported. Other records of E. bitis include what appears to be a reiteration of the original description (Fantham and Porter, 1950), a report of the parasite from 30/40 (75%) unidentified snakes in Nigeria (Akinboade and Dipeolu, 1982), and what is likely a mis-identification of similar oocysts from Thamnophis spp. in Canada (Fantham and Porter, 1954).


PSF thanks the Department of Agriculture and Nature Conservation in Windhoek, Namibia for their continued support and for collecting and export permits.


Akinboade, O. A., and O. O. Dipeolu. 1982. Studies on parasites of African snakes. Int. J. Zoon., 9:87-89.

Fantham, H. B. 1932. Some parasitic protozoa found in South Africa-XV. S. Afr. J. Sci., 29:627-640.

Fantham, H. B., and A. Porter. 1950. The endoparasites of certain South African snakes, together with some remarks on their structure and effects on their hosts. Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 120:599-647.

______. 1954. The endoparasites of some North American snakes and their effects on the Ophidia. Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 123:867-898.

Paperna, I., and J. H. Landsberg. 1989. Description and taxonomic discussion of eimerian coccidia from African and Levantine geckoes. S. Afr. J. Zool., 24:345-355.


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Author:Upton, Steve J.; Freed, Paul S.; Freed, Deborah A.
Publication:The Texas Journal of Science
Geographic Code:6NAMI
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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