Five million medicinal leeches were used by medical experts for treatment per year in Paris hospital of France in the 19th century. For a variety of reasons, this practice lost its popularity so that, in the 20th century, it became part of the folklore of traditional ‘last century’ medicine. However, because of their important salivary components, blood-sucking leeches such as H. medicinalis and other medicinal leech species have become of great interest for pharmaceutical companies seeking to expand their supply of various anticoagulants to prevent blood clotting in microsurgeries (Bednarek et al. 2010, Eldor et al. 1996, Electricwala et al. 1991, Godekmerdan et al. 2011, Kostromina et al. 2012, Kutschera and Wirtz 2001, Lent 1986, Markwardt 1991, Markwardt 1992, Munro et al. 1992, Weinfeld et al. 2000). Aquaculture experiments were conducted on the Asian medical leech Hirudinaria manillensis. In these studies, the effects of bloodstocks density on cocoon productivity and reproduction biology of leech were investigated (Zhang et al. 2008, Zulhisyam et al. 2011). Some papers has been prepared on the reproduction and breeding, husbandry requirements, and feeding of medicinal leeches (Saglam 2000, Spencer and Jones 2007). The threat of extinction many populations of the medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis and Hiruda verbana) (IUCN, 1993), and because the extensive international trade in this species has been identified as a major threat to natural populations, they were added to Appendix II of the “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)” in 1987. Molecular identification of Hirudo and another leech species is important to reduce pressure of hunting and to trade within CITES rules. Therefore, the international CITES Secretariat wants to be constantly monitored of the populations status of medicinal leech species (CITES 2006, Saglam 2011).
۵۰۲ Qafqaz Ekosistemi: Dunen, Bu gun, Sabah
Turkey is a major source country for international trade of medicinal leeches and a very rich country in terms of leech diversity. But, recently the medicinal leeches have not been collected enough from nature due to the surface water pollution, extreme use of leeches, and the drying of wetlands. In addition, under the legislation of the FDA and the Turkish Ministry of Health, leeches should be taken from leech farms for use of human in the context of alternative and complementary medicine regulations. In this respect, medical leech breeding has gained great importance.
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