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Pulmonary and intestinal parasites in colony cats as markers for biodiversity in an urban area

Zanzani, Sergio Aurelio, Gazzonis, Alessia, Magistrelli, Sonia, Manfredi, Maria Teresa
Urban ecosystems 2015 v.18 no.4 pp. 1415-1425
Aelurostrongylus, Ancylostomatidae, Dipylidium caninum, Spirometra, Toxascaris leonina, Toxocara cati, Trichuris vulpis, biodiversity, cats, ecosystems, feces, parasites, urban areas, Italy
Urban colony cats are part of the vertebrate community in urban ecosystems in the metropolitan area of Milan, Lombardy, Italy (45° 27′ N, 9° 11′ E) their management is mainly based on the practice of their capture/sterilization/release. Aims of this research, performed from May 2013 to March 2014, were to determine the qualitative and quantitative composition of endoparasitic infections in urban colony cats, the spatial distribution of infected colony cats, and the likelihood that parasites of colony cats act as markers for biodiversity in an urban ecosystem. Pulmonary and intestinal parasites were detected in feces of 35.92 % of colony cats specifically, four intestinal nematodes (Toxocara cati, Toxascaris leonina, Ancylostomatidae and Trichuris vulpis), two intestinal cestodes (Dipylidium caninum and Spirometra sp.), one intestinal protozoan (Cystoisospora sp.) and one pulmonary nematode (Aelurostrongylus abstrusus) were isolated. Infected and non-infected colony cats did not show any statistically significant difference as to their distances from the center of the city. However, in urban colony cats infected and non-infected by A. abstrusus, in cats infected and non-infected by parasites presenting an indirect life cycle (ILC) and in cats with or without multiparasitic infections were detected appreciable differences in their distances from the edges of the nearest green urban areas having different sizes. For A. abstrusus, parasites with an indirect life cycle (ILC), and multiparasitic infections, significant differences in distance from green urban areas were detected for infected vs. non-infected urban colony cats particularly, shorter distances for infected cats were observed, suggesting that cats living closer to green urban areas with higher biodiversity were more likely to be infected.