Not just a walk in the park: Occurrence of intestinal parasites in dogs roaming recreational parks in Chandigarh, Northern India.Vet Parasitol Reg Stud Reports. 2018 12; 14:176-180.VP
Chandigarh, a city in North-west India, has numerous parks and recreational areas where stray dogs roam freely and pet dogs are exercised. This allows for extensive human-dog interaction, which may pose a public health threat. The aim of this study was to determine the occurrence of gastrointestinal parasites of public health importance, and their seasonal variation, in canine faecal samples obtained from recreational parks in Chandigarh. A total of 212 samples were collected from 10 parks during the winter (January 2015; N = 107) and monsoon season (September 2015; N = 105), to assess the prevalence of intestinal zoonotic parasites and any seasonal variations. The samples were analysed for helminth eggs using McMaster counting chambers. Immunofluorescent antibody testing was used to analyse samples for Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts. The Giardia-positive samples were genotyped by conventional multi-locus PCR to determine their assemblage and zoonotic potential. Among the 212 samples, strongyle-type eggs were found in 34 (16.0%), Toxocara spp. eggs were found in 6 (2.8%), taeniid eggs in 1 (0.5%), Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts in 4 (1.9%) and Giardia duodenalis cysts in 49 (23.1%). Trichuris eggs were not detected. The majority of the successfully amplified Giardia isolates belonged to canid-specific assemblages. The prevalence of Giardia cysts in faecal samples was significantly higher during winter than in the monsoon season, whereas helminth-egg prevalence unaffected by season. The prevalence of strongyle-type eggs and Giardia cysts in dog faeces was lower in more affluent areas of the city than those of less affluence. There was no significant difference in the intensity of infection between the seasons. The results indicate that faeces from dogs contaminating parks in Chandigarh do not usually contain parasite transmission stages that pose a significant risk to human health. However, the importance of minimising contamination of public parks with dog faeces is highlighted.