Occurrence and molecular typing of Giardia isolates in pet rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs and ferrets collected in Europe during 2006–2012

Pantchev, N.; Broglia, A.; Paoletti, B.; Globokar Vrhovec, M.; Bertram, A.; Nöckler, K.; Cacciò, S. M.

A total of 1180 faecal samples (528 from rabbits, 531 from chinchillas and 121 from guinea pigs) collected during 2006-2012 by veterinarians in Germany and in other European countries were submitted to a diagnostic laboratory for Giardia testing by means of coproantigen ELISA. Of these samples, 40 rabbits (7.6 per cent), 326 chinchillas (61.4 per cent) and five guinea pigs (4.1 per cent ) were found to be positive. To gain insights into the genetic identity of Giardia in small mammals, ELISA-positive samples from 23 chinchillas, five ferrets, a rabbit, and a Desmarest's hutia were investigated by PCR and sequencing of fragments of the small subunit ribosomal DNA (ssu), the triose phosphate isomerase (tpi) and the β-giardin (bg) genes. At the ssu locus, assemblage B was identified in 28 of 30 isolates, whereas assemblage A and D were each detected in one sample. The majority of isolates from chinchillas and those from ferrets had Giardia duodenalis sequences identical to sub-assemblages AI or BIV, based on either a single locus (tpi or bg) or multiple loci (tpi and bg). As sub-assemblages AI or BIV are associated with human infection, these results indicate that small mammals can act as reservoirs of cysts potentially infectious to humans.

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Pantchev, N. / Broglia, A. / Paoletti, B. / et al: Occurrence and molecular typing of Giardia isolates in pet rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs and ferrets collected in Europe during 2006–2012. 2014.

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