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First report of Tunisian coastal water contamination by protozoan parasites using mollusk bivalves as biological indicators

Ghozzi, Khemissa, Marangi, Marianna, Papini, Roberto, Lahmar, Ibtissem, Challouf, Rafika, Houas, Najoua, Ben Dhiab, Rym, Normanno, Giovanni, Babba, Hamouda, Giangaspero, Annunziata
Marine pollution bulletin 2017 v.117 no.1-2 pp. 197-202
Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora cayetanensis, Giardia lamblia, Ruditapes decussatus, Toxoplasma gondii, coastal water, coasts, human health, indicator species, oocysts, parasite load, parasites, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, risk, seawater, water pollution
In order to establish seawater contamination by emerging protozoan parasites, we used qPCR to molecularly characterize and evaluate the parasitic burden of Giardia duodenalis, Cryptosporidium spp., Toxoplasma gondii, and Cyclospora cayetanensis in 1255 wild bivalve mollusks collected along the Tunisian coasts. T. gondii, G. duodenalis and C. cayetanensis were detected in 6.9% (99% CI=1.6–12.2%) pools of Ruditapes decussatus. None of the samples were found positive to Cryptosporidium spp.; 6.6% pools of R. decussatus were positive for T. gondii Type I, 1.6% for G. duodenalis assemblage A, and 1.6% for the association T. gondii Type I/C. cayetanensis/G. duodenalis assemblage A. R. decussatus harbored up to 77500 oocysts/sample of T. gondii, up to 395 cysts/sample of G. duodenalis, and 526 oocysts/sample of C. cayetanensis. These results provide the first evidence that the Tunisian coasts are contaminated by zoonotic protozoan parasites that can constitute a direct or indirect risk for human health.