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Detection and molecular diversity of Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. in sheltered dogs and cats in Northern Spain

Gil, Horacio, Cano, Lourdes, de Lucio, Aida, Bailo, Begoña, de Mingo, Marta Hernández, Cardona, Guillermo A., Fernández-Basterra, José A., Aramburu-Aguirre, Juan, López-Molina, Nuria, Carmena, David
Infection, genetics, and evolution 2017 v.50 pp. 62-69
Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia, cats, cryptosporidiosis, digestive system diseases, dogs, epidemiological studies, fluorescence microscopy, genes, genetic variation, genotyping, giardiasis, giardin protein, glutamate dehydrogenase, hosts, human population, mixed infection, monitoring, oocysts, parasites, pathogens, pets, polymerase chain reaction, provenance, ribosomal RNA, risk, zoonoses, Spain
Domestic dogs and cats may act as natural reservoirs of a large number of zoonotic pathogens, including the enteric parasites Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp., the most relevant protozoan species causing gastrointestinal disease worldwide. A cross-sectional epidemiological study aiming to assess the prevalence and molecular diversity of G. duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. was conducted in an animal rescue centre in the province of Álava (Northern Spain). A total of 194 and 65 faecal dropping samples from individual dogs and cats, respectively, were collected between November 2013 and June 2016. G. duodenalis cysts and Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts were detected by direct fluorescence microscopy and PCR-based methods targeting the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene of these parasites.Overall, G. duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. were detected in 33% (63/194) and 4.1% (8/194) of dogs, and 9.2% (6/65) and 4.6% (3/65) of cats, respectively. G. duodenalis and Cryptosporidium co-infections were observed in 1.5% (3/194) of dogs, but not in cats. No significant differences in infection rates could be demonstrated among dogs or cats according to their sex, age group, status, or geographical origin. Multi-locus sequence-based genotyping of the glutamate dehydrogenase and β-giardin genes of G. duodenalis allowed the characterization of 19 canine isolates that were unambiguously assigned to sub-assemblages AII (n=7), BIII (n=1), and BIV (n=7), and assemblages C (n=3) and D (n=1). Two feline isolates were genotyped as assemblages A and F, respectively. No mixed assemblage or sub-assemblage infections were identified. C. canis (n=5) and C. hominis (n=1) were the Cryptosporidium species found in dogs, whereas C. felis (n=1) was identified in cats. The finding of G. duodenalis sub-assemblages AII, BIII, and BIV circulating in dogs (but not cats) may have zoonotic potential, although most of the AII and BIV isolates sub-genotyped corresponded to genetic variants not previously found in Spanish human populations. Dogs may also act as novel suitable hosts for C. hominis. We recommend to considerer companion animals as sentinel surveillance system for zoonotic giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis in order to minimize the risk of spreading of these parasitic diseases among the human population.