Zoonotic parasites in fecal samples and fur from dogs and cats in The Netherlands

Paul A M Overgaauw, Linda van Zutphen, Denise Hoek, Felix O Yaya, Jeroen Roelfsema, Elena Pinelli, Frans van Knapen, Laetitia M Kortbeek
Veterinary Parasitology 2009 July 7, 163 (1): 115-22
Pets may carry zoonotic pathogens for which owners are at risk. The aim of the study is to investigate whether healthy pets harbour zoonotic parasitic infections and to make an inventory of the interactions between pet-owners and their companion animals in The Netherlands. Fecal and hair samples were collected from healthy household dogs and cats in Dutch veterinary practices. Owners were interviewed about interaction with their pets. The samples were investigated by microscopy, ELISA, and PCR. From 159 households, 152 dogs (D) and 60 cats (C), information and samples were collected and examination for several zoonotic parasites was performed. Toxocara eggs were found in 4.4% (D) and 4.6% (C) of the fecal samples and in 12.2% (D) and 3.4% (C) of the fur samples. The median epg in the fur was 17 (D) and 28 (C) and none of these eggs were viable. From 15.2% of the dog and 13.6% of the cat feces Giardia was isolated. One canine and one feline Giardia isolate was a zoonotic assemblage A (12%). Cryptosporidium sp. were present in 8.7% (D) and 4.6% (C) of the feces. Fifty percent of the owners allow the pet to lick their faces. Sixty percent of the pets visit the bedroom; 45-60% (D-C) are allowed on the bed, and 18-30% (D-C) sleep with the owner in bed. Six percent of the pets always sleep in the bedroom. Of the cats, 45% are allowed to jump onto the kitchen sink. Nearly 39% of the dog owners never clean up the feces of their dog. Fifteen percent of the dog owners and 8% of the cat owners always wash their hands after contact with the animals. Close physical contact between owners and their pets is common and poses an increased risk of transmission of zoonotic pathogens. Education of owners by the vet, specifically about hygiene and potential risks, is required.


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