Equine thelaziosis caused by the eyeworm Thelazia lacrymalis is a parasitic disease transmitted by muscid flies. Although equine thelaziosis is known to have worldwide distribution, information on the epidemiology and presence of the intermediate hosts of T. lacrymalis is lacking. In the present work, a PCR-RFLP based assay on the first and/or second internal transcribed spacer (ITS1 and ITS2) of ribosomal DNA was developed for the detection of T. lacrymalis DNA in its putative vector(s). The sensitivity of the technique was also assessed. The restriction patterns obtained readily differentiated T. lacrymalis from four species of Musca (Diptera, Muscidae) (i.e. Musca autumnalis, Musca domestica, Musca larvipara and Musca osiris), which are potential vectors of equine eyeworms. The molecular assay presented herein is a useful tool to identify the intermediate host(s) of T. lacrymalis in natural conditions and to study its/their ecology and epidemiology.
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