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Gastrointestinal and ectoparasites from urban stray dogs in Fortaleza (Brazil): high infection risk for humans?

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Abstract

Dogs are important definite or reservoir hosts for zoonotic parasites. However, only few studies on the prevalence of intestinal parasites in urban areas in Brazil are available. We performed a comprehensive study on parasites of stray dogs in a Brazilian metropolitan area. We included 46 stray dogs caught in the urban areas of Fortaleza (northeast Brazil). After euthanization, dogs were autopsied. Ectoparasites were collected, and the intestinal content of dogs were examined for the presence of parasites. Faecal samples were collected and analysed using merthiolate iodine formaldehyde concentration method. A total of nine different parasite species were found, including five endoparasite (one protozoan, one cestode and three nematode species) and four ectoparasite species (two flea, one louse and one tick species). In the intestinal content, 3,162 specimens of four helminth species were found: Ancylostoma caninum (prevalence, 95.7%), Dipylidium caninum (45.7%), Toxocara canis (8.7%) and Trichuris vulpis (4.3%). A total of 394 ectoparasite specimens were identified, including Rhipicephalus sanguineus (prevalence, 100.0%), Heterodoxus spiniger (67.4%), Ctenocephalides canis (39.1%) and Ctenocephalides felis (17.4%). In the faeces, intestinal parasites were detected in 38 stray dogs (82.6%), including oocysts of Giardia sp. (2.2%) and eggs of the nematode A. caninum (82.6%). Neither eggs nor larval stages of D. caninum, T. canis or T. vulpis were detected in dog faeces. Sensitivity of faecal examination for A. caninum was 86.4% (95% confidence interval, 72.0–94.3) but zero percentage for the other intestinal helminth species. Our data show that stray dogs in northeast Brazil carry a multitude of zoonotic ecto- and endoparasites, posing a considerable risk for humans. With the exception of A. caninum, sensitivity of faecal examination was negligible.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the head, Evansia Alves Ventura, and the staff of the Centro do Controle de Zoonoses of Fortaleza for supporting our study. Mirela Costa de Miranda, Eduardo Rebouças Carvalho and Francisco Iure Sampaio Lira assisted in the autopsies. J.H. is research fellow from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq/Brazil).

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Correspondence to Sven Klimpel.

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Klimpel, S., Heukelbach, J., Pothmann, D. et al. Gastrointestinal and ectoparasites from urban stray dogs in Fortaleza (Brazil): high infection risk for humans?. Parasitol Res 107, 713–719 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-010-1926-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-010-1926-7

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