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wildlife and zoo assay data sheet

Capillaria xenopodis / Pseudocapillaroides xenopi

Test code:
X0037 - Ultrasensitive qualitative detection of Pseudocapillaroides xenopi / Capillaria xenopodis by real time PCR.


Pseudocapillaroides xenopi is a capillarid nematode first described in a group of African clawed frogs in the 1970s. In 1982, the parasite was named Pseudocapillaroides xenopi by Moravec and Cosgrove. However, in another report by Wade in the same year, the same parasite was also described and was named by Wade as Capillaria xenopodis. Ever since then, the two names have been used interchangeably.

Capillaria xenopodis/Pseudocapillaroides xenopi infection of frogs is characterized by profound epidermal hyperplasia along with the presence of the nematodes and eggs in tunnels within the epidermis. Epidermal hyperplasia leads to significant impairment of normal epidermal functions, such as respiratory and metabolic functions (including gas exchange, waste removal, and osmotic balance) of the skin; and physical barrier of the skin to prevent localized secondary skin infections and septicemia (including infection by gram-negative bacteria such as Aeromonas hydrophila, the cause of red leg). Untreated infection can lead to overall debilitation and death of the animal.

Capillaria xenopodis/Pseudocapillaroides xenopi is an aphasmid nematode; key histologic characteristics of aphasmid nematodes include a thin smooth external cuticle with hypodermal bacillary bands, unapparent musculature, an esophagus encased by a stichosome, and presence of a single uterus in females. Specific characteristics of Capillaria xenopodis/Pseudocapillaroides xenopi include sexual dimorphism (females are 4 times longer and 2 times wider than males), and the presence of unembryonated and embryonated eggs within the uterus (as opposed to presence of only unembryonated eggs in other aphasmid nematodes). This parasite completes all stages of its lifecycle within the epidermis of the host. Because of the direct lifecycle, autoinfection is possible. Transmission of the parasite can be through ingestion of the parasite’s eggs in desquamated skin, or through autoinfection.

Diagnosis of this parasitic infection by microscopic examination is not very sensitive. However, molecular detection by polymerase chain reaction is a rapid, specific and sensitive method for identifying these parasites (Feldman and Ramirez, 2014).


  • Help confirm the disease causing agent
  • Shorten the time required to confirm a clinical diagnosis of the infection
  • Help ensure parasite-free frog colonies
  • Early prevention of spread of this parasite between animals
  • Minimize human exposure to this parasite
  • Safety monitoring of biological products that derive from frogs

Feldman, S.H. and Ramirez, M.P. (2014) Molecular phylogeny of Pseudocapillaroides xenopi (Moravec et Cosgrov 1982) and development of a quantitative PCR Assay for its detection in aquarium sediment. J. Am. Assoc. Lab. Anim. Sci. 53: 668–674.

Specimen requirement: Skin swab, or lesion swab, or environmental swab, or 0.2 ml fresh, frozen or fixed skin tissue.

Contact Zoologix if advice is needed to determine an appropriate specimen type for a specific diagnostic application. For specimen types not listed here, please contact Zoologix to confirm specimen acceptability and shipping instructions.

For all specimen types, if there will be a delay in shipping, or during very warm weather, refrigerate specimens until shipped and ship with a cold pack unless more stringent shipping requirements are specified. Frozen specimens should be shipped so as to remain frozen in transit. See shipping instructions for more information.

Turnaround time: 2 business days

Methodology: Qualitative real time PCR

Normal range: Nondetected

Capillaria / Pseudocapillaroides PCR test

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