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Molecular characterizations of Cryptosporidium spp. and Enterocytozoon bieneusi in brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) from Heilongjiang Province, China

Zhao, Wei, Wang, Jianguang, Ren, Guangxu, Yang, Ziyin, Yang, Fengkun, Zhang, Weizhe, Xu, Yingchu, Liu, Aiqin, Ling, Hong
Parasites & vectors 2018 v.11 no.1 pp. 313
Cryptosporidium, Enterocytozoon bieneusi, Rattus norvegicus, diarrhea, feces, genes, genotype, human health, humans, internal transcribed spacers, pathogens, people, polymerase chain reaction, rats, ribosomal DNA, ribosomal RNA, risk, sequence analysis, China
BACKGROUND: Cryptosporidium spp. and Enterocytozoon bieneusi are prevalent zoonotic pathogens responsible for the high burden of diarrheal diseases worldwide. Rodents are globally overpopulated and are known as reservoirs or carriers of a variety of zoonotic pathogens including Cryptosporidium spp. and E. bieneusi. However, few data are available on genetic characterizations of both pathogens in rodents in China. The aim of the present work was to determine the prevalence and genetic characterizations of Cryptosporidium spp. and E. bieneusi in brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) from Heilongjiang, China. METHODS: A total of 242 wild brown rats were captured in Heilongjiang Province of China. A fresh fecal specimen was collected directly from the intestinal and rectal content of each brown rat. All the fecal specimens were examined for the presence of Cryptosporidium spp. and E. bieneusi by PCR and sequencing of the partial small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the rRNA gene of the two pathogens, respectively. RESULTS: The infection rate was 9.1% (22/242) for Cryptosporidium spp. and 7.9% (19/242) for E. bieneusi. Sequence analysis confirmed the presence of C. ubiquitum (1/22, 4.5%) and three genotypes of Cryptosporidium, including Cryptosporidium rat genotype I (14/22, 63.6%), Cryptosporidium rat genotype IV (6/22, 27.3%) and Cryptosporidium suis-like genotype (1/22, 4.5%). Meanwhile, two E. bieneusi genotypes were identified, including D (17/19, 89.5%) and Peru6 (2/19, 10.5%). CONCLUSIONS: To the best of our knowledge, Enterocytozoon bieneusi genotype Peru6 was identified in rodents for the first time globally and Cryptosporidium rat genotype I and Cryptosporidium rat genotype IV were found in rats in China for the first time. The finding of zoonotic C. ubiquitum and C. suis-like genotype, as well as E. bieneusi genotypes, suggests that brown rats pose a threat to human health. It is necessary to control brown rat population in the investigated areas and improve local people’s awareness of the transmission risk of the two pathogens from brown rats to humans.