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Examination of feces from rodents and rabbits for Giardia species and other protozoan parasites
Sipos Ditta - year 6
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Parasitology and Zoology
Supervisor: Dr. Tuska-Szalay Barbara

Abstract:

Nowadays keeping rabbits and rodents has become increasingly popular among pet owners, thereby creating the conditions for more direct contact between humans and animals. The relationship between humans and the Eurasian beaver, once on the brink of extinction, is also on the rise. For instance, recreational water can also provide a habitat for the now overpopulated beaver populations in our country. As these animals may be carriers of various protozoan parasites, even with zoonotic properties, their study is of particular importance.

A total of 154 small mammals were included in our study: 77 chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera), 10 guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus), 13 degus (Octodon degus), 12 rats (Rattus norvegicus), 15 beavers (Castor fiber) and 27 rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Following collection, fecal samples were examined using a traditional parasitological diagnostic method, the flotation. The fecal samples of the beavers were analyzed using the Giardia SNAP test. Afterwards, 59 samples were selected and their DNA was extracted using the QIAamp Fast Stool Mini Kit. The samples were then tested by PCR.

Using the traditional parasitological method, Giardia sp. cysts were found in 32 animals (32/154; 20,78%), Eimeria sp. oocysts in 10 animals (10/154; 6,49%), among them co-infection of Giardia sp. and Eimeria sp. was found in 4 animals (4/154; 2.60%). We found Cryptosporidium sp. oocysts (1/154; 0.65%) in 1 guinea pig. Four of the positive animals had marked gastrointestinal symptoms, while the owners of three other animals reported less characteristic symptoms such as weight loss and softer fecal defecation. The remaining animals showed no signs of infection. Furthermore, the beavers proved to be Giardia-negative based on the SNAP tests. The Giardia species and assemblage could not be clarified successfully by molecular investigations, because our method requires further adjustments.

Our results suggest that in our country in case of rabbits and rodents the infestation with various protozoan parasites might occur and may cause severe symptoms. However, from an epidemiological point of view, asymptomatic carriers may be of more interest as they may play a key role in the transmission of parasites, in particular Giardia duodenalis to humans.



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