Stray dogs and cats as potential sources of soil contamination with zoonotic parasites

Department of Biology and Medical Parasitology, Medical University of Lodz, Poland
Department of Diagnostics and Treatment of Parasitic Diseases and Mycoses, Medical University of Lodz, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2017;24(1):39–43
Abstract [b]Introduction and objective[/b]. The main source of many zoonoses is soil contaminated with feline and canine faeces. Thus, the aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of intestinal parasites in stray dogs and cats adopted in Lodz shelter (Poland). [b]Materials and methods[/b]. In total, 163 faecal samples were collected from 95 dogs and 68 cats from 2011 to 2012. The samples were processed by sedimentation techniques using Mini Parasep®SF. [b]Results.[/b] Six parasite genera belonging to protozoa, cestoda, and nematoda, were found in dogs, while eight were found in cats. Out of the 163 fecal samples, 37.4% were positive for the presence at least one species of intestinal parasites. The majority of positive dog samples contained eggs from Toxocara and Trichuris genera, and the family Ancylostomatidae, while Toxocara and Taenia eggs, as well as Cystoisospora oocysts, predominated in cat faeces. A significantly higher prevalence of parasites was noted in cats (48.5%) than in dogs (29.5%) (χ2=6.15, P=0.013). The Toxocara genus was the most prevalent parasite in both populations; eggs were found in 27.9% and 16.8% of cats and dogs, respectively. Animals younger than 12 months of age showed higher infection rates with Toxocara, but differences were not statistically significant. The average numbers of Toxocara eggs/gram of faeces in positive puppy and kitten samples were over 5 and 7 times higher than in older dogs and cats, respectively. Mixed infection were found in dogs (5.3%) and cats (8.8%). [b]Conclusions.[/b] Cat faeces represent a more important potential source of environmental contamination with zoonotic parasites than dog faeces. Among the detected parasites of stray dogs and cats, Toxocara present an important zoonotic risk for the local human population, especially children.