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Molecular detection of Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. in canine faecal samples contaminating public areas in Northern Italy


Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. are common intestinal pathogens of humans and animals. Dogs may be infected by zoonotic isolates of G. duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. that, consequently, have high interest under public health perspective. This study estimated the occurrence of these protozoa in canine faeces polluting public areas of Padua municipality (Northern Italy), towards a potential evaluation of health risks for dogs and humans. A total of 705 canine stools was collected in green (n = 270) and urban (n = 435) areas and processed by duplex real-time PCR and real-time PCR SYBR® Green I for the detection of both protozoa. Positive samples were submitted to specific nested PCRs (i.e. β-giardin/SSU-rRNA genes for Giardia; SSU-rRNA gene for Cryptosporidium) to obtain detailed information on the isolates retrieved.Giardia and Cryptosporidium prevalence were 28.9% and 1.7%, respectively. Twenty-one Giardia-positive samples were successfully identified as dog-specific assemblages C and D, and 1 as the human-specific assemblage B. One isolate was identified as Cryptosporidium canis, while the other 11 were confirmed to belong to the Cryptosporidium parvum species complex. Contrariwise to the Cryptosporidium low prevalence, the wide distribution of Giardia suggests a high risk of infection for dogs attending public areas. Although data indicate a limited risk for human health, it is necessary to improve general education to reduce canine faecal pollution towards a widespread awareness of health risks.

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This work was supported by the research grant of the University of Padua Prot. CPDA110843. MP, AFdR and DT conceived the study and all authors contributed to its drafting, preparation and intellectual content. MP and AFdR were scientifically responsible for the studies whose unpublished data are reported. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Giulia Simonato.

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The authors declare that the present survey was realised complying with the current laws of the country in which it was conducted.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Section Editor: Panagiotis Karanis

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Simonato, G., Frangipane di Regalbono, A., Cassini, R. et al. Molecular detection of Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. in canine faecal samples contaminating public areas in Northern Italy. Parasitol Res 116, 3411–3418 (2017).

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  • Protozoa
  • Giardia duodenalis
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Environmental faecal pollution
  • Public health
  • Italy