Pathology associated with an outbreak of entamoebiasis in wild cane toads (Rhinella marina) in tropical Australia

Catherine M. Shilton*, Jan Šlapeta, Richard Shine, Gregory P. Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Infection due to Entamoeba spp. is known to cause serious disease in primates (Entamoeba histolytica) and snakes (Entamoeba invadens), but there are no detailed descriptions of the pathology associated with Entamoeba spp. infection in amphibians. In 2014, an outbreak of entamoebiasis associated with a novel species of Entamoeba induced clinical illness and poor body condition in free-ranging cane toads in Australia’s Northern Territory. Here, we describe the gross pathology, histology, and clinical pathology linked to the outbreak. The study compared 25 toads with invasive entamoebiasis, defined as histologically visible amoebas within tissue, and 12 toads without invasive entamoebiasis. Grossly, affected toads had mild to marked congestion of colonic serosal vasculature, with variable thickening of the intestinal wall and serosanguineous to hemorrhagic colonic content. Histologically, invasive entamoebiasis manifested primarily as moderate to severe, variably hyperplastic to ulcerative colitis. The small intestine was affected in 10 of 25 toads, and 5 of 25 toads also had gastric lesions. Amoebas consistent in morphology with Entamoeba sp. were commonly intermingled with mucosal epithelium, frequently along the basement membrane, with deeper invasion into the superficial lamina propria in only 5 toads. Toads with invasive entamoebiasis had neutrophilia, monocytosis, and lymphopenia, and thus elevated neutrophil to lymphocyte ratios, suggestive of an inflammatory and/or stress leukogram.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-931
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Pathology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • entamoeba
  • Bufo marinus
  • colon
  • pathology
  • parasite

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