Risk factors and control of intestinal parasite infections in sled dogs in Poland.Vet Parasitol. 2011 Feb 10; 175(3-4):343-50.VP
Training and racing constitute serious challenges for working sled dogs. Attainment of the highest levels of stamina and speed are possible only by completely healthy dogs. Infections with nematodes as whipworm Trichuris sp. or hookworms Uncinaria/Ancylostoma can significantly reduce the fitness of working dogs leading to anemia or even to death. In the middle of the racing season, between December 2009 and April 2010, 108 individual fecal samples were collected from 25 sled dog kennels situated in different regions of Poland. Saturated salt flotation was performed for helminth egg detection. The immunofluorescent assay MeriFluor Cryptosporidium/Giardia and nested PCRs on 18S rRNA (Cryptosporidium spp.) and TPI gene (Giardia spp.) were carried out for detection of intestinal protozoa. Overall prevalence of 6 species of intestinal parasites was 68% in sled dogs (73/108). In 51 samples the eggs of a single species of helminth were detected (47%), two nematode species were detected in 13%, three species of nematodes were found in two dogs. The most prevalent helminths were the hookworms Uncinaria/Ancylostoma-identified in 36% of kennels, and in 34% of sled dogs. Toxocara eggs were detected in 36% of kennels, in 17% of dogs. Trichuris sp. eggs were found in 20% of kennels (5/25), in 13% of dogs. Cysts/oocysts of intestinal protozoa were detected in 31% of sled dogs. The most prevalent was Giardia spp. infection-in 54% of kennels [13/24], in 28% of dogs. Cryptosporidium spp. infections were identified in 37.5% of kennels [9/24], in 13% of dogs. Two sequenced Giardia isolates presented 100% homology with G. intestinalis Assemblage C isolate (AY228641.1), specific for dogs. A range of factors was shown to affect the prevalence of intestinal parasites in sled dogs. The highest prevalence of parasites was found among dogs from large kennels (housing >3 dogs), in dogs less than 2 years old, and in kennels, where prophylactic treatment was carried out 1-4 times a year. The present study has demonstrated a high prevalence of intestinal parasites in working sled dogs in Poland, including the zoonotic human pathogens Toxocara or Cryptosporidium.