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Infection dynamics of gastrointestinal helminths in sympatric non-human primates, livestock and wild ruminants in Kenya

AuthorsObanda, Vincent; Maingi, Ndichu; Muchemi, Gerald; Ng’ang’a, Chegue; Angelone-Alasaad, Samer; Archie, Elizabeth A.
Issue Date2019
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 14: e0217929. (2019)
AbstractBackground Gastrointestinal parasites are neglected infections, yet they cause significant burden to animal and human health globally. To date, most studies of gastrointestinal parasites focus on host-parasite systems that involve either a single parasite or a host species. However, when hosts share habitat and resources, they may also cross-transmit generalist gastrointestinal parasites. Here we explore multi-host-parasite interactions in a single ecosystem to understand the infection patterns, especially those linked to livestock-wildlife interfaces and zoonotic risk. Methods We used both coprological methods (flotation and sedimentation; N = 1,138 fecal samples) and molecular identification techniques (rDNA and mtDNA; N = 18 larvae) to identify gastrointestinal parasites in nine sympatric host species (cattle, sheep, goats, wildebeest, Grant's gazelles, Thomson's gazelles, impala, vervet monkeys and baboons) in the Amboseli ecosystem, Kenya. Results We found that the host community harbored a diverse community of gastrointestinal helminths, including 22 species and/or morphotypes that were heterogeneously distributed across the hosts. Six zoonotic gastrointestinal helminths were identified: Trichuris spp., Trichostrongylus colubriformis, Enterobius spp. Oesophagostomum bifurcum, Strongyloides stercoralis and Strongyloides fuelleborni. The dominant parasite was Trichuris spp, whose ova occurred in two morphological types. Baboons were co-infected with Strongyloides fuelleborni and S. stercoralis. Conclusions We found that the interface zone shared by wild ungulates, livestock and non-human primates is rich in diversity of gastrointestinal helminths, of which some are extensively shared across the host species. Closely related host species were most likely to be infected by the same parasite species. Several parasites showed genetic sub-structuring according to either geography or host species. Of significance and contrary to expectation, we found that livestock had a higher parasite richness than wild bovids, which is a health risk for both conservation and livestock production. The zoonotic parasites are of public health risk, especially to pastoralist communities living in areas contiguous to wildlife areas. These results expand information on the epidemiology of these parasites and highlights potential zoonotic risk in East African savanna habitats.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217929
issn: 1932-6203
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