Over a period of about 12 years, 30 abnormal Schistosoma mattheei cercariae were found among a total of approximately 2.8 million examined. Initially seven were recovered from about 1.02 million (0.0007 %), which were examined individually while being counted with the aid of a stereoscopic microscope. Subsequently, on the strength of relatively high percentages of abnormal individuals recovered when counting cercariae that failed to penetrate into oxen, it appeared that the morphologically abnormal cercariae were unable to swim and would mostly sediment out of a suspension while most of the normal cercariae would remain swimming. This surmise is supported by recovery of 23 morphologically abnormal cercariae (0.001 %) from about 1.8 million, by examining the sediment after the cercarial suspension had been left standing undisturbed in glass measuring cylinders. The abnormalities ranged from aberrant tails only (e.g. an underdeveloped tail, or different degrees of schism) or aberrant heads only, to abnormalities of both the heads and tails. A suggested schematic classification of abnormal cercariae is presented. A young, adult hamster was exposed to eight S. mattheei cercariae with complete schism of the shaft of the tail, by pipetting the cercariae onto the shaved abdominal skin of the anaesthetised animal. Two underdeveloped females were subsequently encountered in squash preparations of the liver when the hamster was killed for worm recovery 10 weeks after infection, thus showing that some of the abnormal cercariae were viable. A method is also described for killing and fixing cercariae while retaining some of the shining brilliance of live cercariae, without them becoming shrivelled, granular and semi-opaque, as occurs when cercariae die spontaneously or are killed with heat This is apparently the first report of abnormal cercariae of S. mattheei. In addition, a method of concentrating abnormal cercariae after emergence from a snail, a schematic classification of abnormal cercariae and a method for killing and fixing cercariae while retaining much of the shiny brilliance of live cercariae are also reported for the first time as far as is known.
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