Fasciola spp. are the causative agents of fascioliasis in humans and livestock. Before the development of control and management measures, the geographical distribution of the species and patterns of infection must be considered. Because of difficulties in the phenotypic differentiation and morphometric classification of Fasciola spp., DNA molecular markers have become more useful for fluke differentiation and description of phylogenetic patterns. This study aimed to differentiate and describe the phylogenetic background of Fasciola spp. isolated from cattle slaughtered at three abattoirs in the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa. The cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) – FHCO1 (forward: 5′-TTGGTTTTTTGGGCATCCT-3′) and FHCO1 (reverse: 5′ -AGGCCACCACCAAATAAAAGA3′) – marker was sequenced from 55 Fasciola flukes that were collected from abattoirs in catchment areas of the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces. Fasciola hepatica was demonstrated to have 100% prevalence in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga (highveld), respectively, and 76% prevalence in the lowveld (Belfast area) of Mpumalanga. Two animals from the Belfast metapopulation were co-infected with both Fasciola gigantica and F. hepatica. DNA sequence analysis of all the isolates demonstrated a sequence conservation of 0.472, nucleotide diversity of 0.082 and Tajima’s D of -1.100; however, it was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). Twenty-two haplotypes were identified, with 18 novel haplotypes being unique to the isolates from South Africa. Within the study samples, 12 haplotypes were isolated to a few individuals, with a haplotype diversity of 0.8957 indicating high genetic diversity. Principal coordinate analysis supported the clustering and distribution of the haplotypes, with 11.38% of the variation being attributed to coordinate 2 and 55.52% to coordinate 1. The distribution of Fasciola spp. has been demonstrated to be related to the distribution of the freshwater intermediate host snails, Lymnaea spp., as well as the relative altitude of the localities in South Africa. Information provided by this study serves as preliminary evidence for further studies on the mapping of the distribution of F. gigantica and F. hepatica in South Africa, which is key in designing control programmes for fascioliasis in humans and livestock.

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