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Parasites of importance for human health in Nigerian dogs: high prevalence and limited knowledge of pet owners

Author(s): Ugbomoiko Uade | Ariza Liana | Heukelbach Jorg

Journal: BMC Veterinary Research
ISSN 1746-6148

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 49;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Background Dogs are the most common pet animals worldwide. They may harbour a wide range of parasites with zoonotic potential, thus causing a health risk to humans. In Nigeria, epidemiological knowledge on these parasites is limited. Methods In a community-based study, we examined 396 dogs in urban and rural areas of Ilorin (Kwara State, Central Nigeria) for ectoparasites and intestinal helminths. In addition, a questionnaire regarding knowledge and practices was applied to pet owners. Results Nine ectoparasite species belonging to four taxa and six intestinal helminth species were identified: fleas (Ctenocephalides canis, Pulex irritans, Tunga penetrans), mites (Demodex canis, Otodectes sp., Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis), ticks (Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Ixodes sp.), and lice (Trichodectes canis); and Toxocara canis, Ancylostoma sp., Trichuris vulpis, Dipylidium caninum, Taenidae and Strongyloides sp. Overall prevalence of ectoparasites was 60.4% and of intestinal helminths 68.4%. The occurrence of C. canis, R. sanguineus, T. canis, Ancylostoma sp. and T. vulpis was most common (prevalence 14.4% to 41.7%). Prevalence patterns in helminths were age-dependent, with T. canis showing a decreasing prevalence with age of host, and a reverse trend in other parasite species. Knowledge regarding zoonoses was very limited and the diseases not considered a major health problem. Treatment with antiparasitic drugs was more frequent in urban areas. Conclusion Parasites of importance for human health were highly prevalent in Nigerian dogs. Interventions should include health education provided to dog owners and the establishment of a program focusing on zoonotic diseases.
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