Prevalence and genetic characterization of Giardia spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. in dogs in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada.
There are few epidemiologic studies on the role of dogs in zoonotic parasitic transmission in the Circumpolar North. The objectives of this study were to: (a) estimate the faecal prevalence of Giardia spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. in dogs; (b) investigate potential associations between the type of dog population and the faecal presence of Giardia spp. and Cryptosporidium spp.; and (c) describe the molecular characteristics of Giardia spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. in dogs in Iqaluit, Nunavut. We conducted two cross-sectional studies in July and September 2016. In July, the team collected daily faecal samples for 3 days from each of 20 sled dogs. In September, the team collected three faecal samples from each of 59 sled dogs, 111 samples from shelter dogs and 104 from community dogs. We analysed faecal samples for the presence of Giardia spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. using rapid immunoassay and flotation techniques. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing of target genes were performed on positive faecal samples. Overall, the faecal prevalence of at least one of the target parasites, when one faecal sample was chosen at random for all dogs, was 8.16% (CI: 5.52-11.92), and for Giardia spp. and Cryptosporidium spp., prevalence was 4.42% (CI: 2.58-7.49) and 6.12% (CI: 3.88-9.53), respectively. The odds of faecal Giardia spp. in sled dogs were significantly higher than those in shelter and community dogs (OR 10.19 [CI: 1.16-89.35]). Sequence analysis revealed that 6 faecal samples were Giardia intestinalis, zoonotic assemblage B (n=2) and species-specific assemblages D (n=3) and E (n=1), and five faecal samples were Cryptosporidium canis. Giardia intestinalis is zoonotic; however, Cryptosporidium canis is rare in humans and, when present, usually occurs in immunosuppressed individuals. Dogs may be a potential source of zoonotic Giardia intestinalis assemblage B infections in residents in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada; however, the direction of transmission is unclear.