PREVALENCE OF GIARDIA SPP. IN DOGS AND CATS IN GERMANY

 

                                                               D. BARUTZKI

 

                           *Veterinary Laboratory Freiburg, 79111 Freiburg i.Br., Germany

 

 

ABSTRACT

Flagellates of the genus Giardia are ubiquitous in their distribution and found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals of several species throughout the world. The prevalence data in dogs and cats quoted in the literature indicate that the incidence of Giardia spp. varies considerably and depends to a large extend on the methods used and the composition of the studied population. The objective of the study presented was to determine the prevalence of Giardia infections in dogs and cats in Germany.

 

Between January 1998 and March 2001 fecal samples of 6534 dogs and 2234 cats were examined for the presence of Giardia. All fecal samples were obtained from private-owned dogs or cats presented at local veterinary practitioner for either a medical problem, or for routine examination and vaccination. The specimen were examined for Giardia-specific antigen by means of the coproantigen test ProSpectTÒ Giardia Micoplate Assay or for cysts of Giardia by means of MIFC (Merthiolate-Iodine-Formaldehyd-Concentration) technique. The evaluation of the coproscopical examination showed 14.0 % Giardia positive dogs in the year 1998, 16.7 % in 1999, 20.5 % in 2000 and 23.7 % in 2001. A total of 1150 of 6534 dogs (17.6 %) were proved to be infected with Giardia spp. The evaluation of the cat data revealed 6.5 % positive cats in the year 1998, 7.9 % in 1999, 13.9 % in 2000 and 14.7 % in 2001. The average prevalence over the 4-year period was 10.2 %.

 

 

KEYWORDS

Giardia, dog, cat, prevalence, Germany

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Giardia are ubiquitous in their distribution, but the following examples of prevalences data in dogs in Germany of 3.5 % (Jungmann et al. 1986) and 6.0 % (Epe et al. 1993), in Switzerland of 1.6 % (Wolff and Eckert 1979) and 6.5 % (Seiler et al. 1983), in Austria of 15.3 % (Pfeiffer and Supperer 1976) and in the United States of 7.2 % up to 100 % (Kirkpatrick 1988) as well as in cats in Germany of 1.4 % (Beelitz et al. 1992) and 2.4 % (Epe et al. 1993) and in the United States of 3.5 % (Kirkpatrick 1988) indicate that the incidence of these flagellates varies considerably and depends to a large extent on the composition of the studied population. Major parameters which influence the spread of Giardia are the age of the dogs concerned (Pfeiffer and Supperer 1976, Wolff and Eckert 1979, Seiler et al. 1983, Swan and Thompson 1986) followed by the management system, colony size and breeding frequency (Kirkpatrick 1988). Although many studies on the prevalence of Giardia have been reported, there are only few epidemiological surveys conducted in Germany. The objective of the study presented was to determine the prevalence of Giardia infections in dogs and cats in Germany.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Between January 1998 and March 2001 fecal samples of 6534 dogs and 2234 cats were examined for the presence of Giardia. All fecal samples were obtained from private-owned dogs presented at local veterinary practitioners for ether a medical problem or for routine examination and vaccination. The specimen were examined for Giardia-specific antigen by means of the coproantigen test ProSpectTÒ Giardia Micoplate Assay or for cysts of Giardia by means of MIFC (Merthiolate-Iodine-Formaldehyde-Concentration) technique.

 

Coproantigen test

ProSpectTÒ Giardia Micoplate Assay is a solid phase immunoassay for the detection of Giardia Specific Antigen (GSA 65). Diluted fecal specimens are added to microplate wells on which anti-GSA 65 antibody is bound. Present GSA 65 is fixed to the bound antibody. After inoculation and washing a monoclonal anti-GSA antibody labelled with horseradish peroxidase enzyme is added. The wells are incubated and then washed to remove unbound enzyme conjugate. The substrate for the enzyme (TMB) is added and the colored reaction can be detected visually or spectrophotometrically.

 

MIFC technique

According to the method developed by Sapero and Lawless (1953) and modified by Blagg et al. (1955) MIF (Merthiolate-Iodine-Formaldehyde) preserved fecal specimens are strained through gauze, shaked with ether and then centrifuged. After pouring off the ether layer, the plug of fecal detritus, and the MIF layer cysts of Giardia can be found by microscopically examination of the sediment.

 

 

RESULTS

The evaluation of the coproscopical examination showed 14.0 % Giardia positive dogs in the year 1998, 16.7 % in 1999, 20.5 % in 2000 and 23.7 % in 2001. A total of 1150 of 6534 dogs (17.6 %) were proved to be infected with Giardia spp. (Table 1).

 

 

Table 1. Prevalence of Giardia in dogs determined by fecal analysis

        Year

   Number of dogs tested

   Number of Giardia         positive dogs

      Percentage (%) of     Giardia positive dogs

        1998

                1892

              264

                 14.0

        1999

                2139

              358

                 16.7

        2000

                2018

              413

                 20.5

        2001

                 485

              115

                 23.7

        Total

                6534

            1150

                 17.6

 

 

The evaluation of the cat data revealed 6.5 % positive cats in the year 1998, 7.9 % in 1999, 13.9 % in 2000 and 14.7 % in 2001 (Table 2). The average prevalence over the 4-year period was 10.2 %.

 

 

 

Table 2. Prevalence of Giardia in cats determined by fecal analysis

        Year

   Number of cats tested

   Number of Giardia          positive cats

      Percentage (%) of     Giardia positive cats

        1998

                 506

                33

                  6.5

        1999

                 775

                61

                  7.9

        2000

                 762

              106

                 13.9

        2001

                 191

                28

                 14.7

        Total

                2234

              228

                 10.2

 

With reference to 845 Giardia positive dogs and 170 positive cats with known age the rate of infection with respect to age of the animals showed distinctly higher values in puppies and kittens compared to older animals (Table 3). 70.2 % of the infected dogs and 75.3 % of the infected cats were up to 1 year old, 11.8 % and 11.2 % were between 1 and 2 years old, 5.1 % and 2.9 % were between 2 and 3 years old, and 2.7 % and 1.2 % were between 3 and 4 years old, respectively. The percentages of the dogs and cats older than 4 years ranged between 0 % and 1.8 % and between 0 % and 3.5 %, respectively.

 

Table 3. Structure of age of Giardia positive dogs and cats

Age of the Giardia positive dogs and cats

Number of Giardia positive dogs

Percentage (%) of Giardia positive dogs

Number of Giardia positive cats

Percentage (%) of Giardia positive cats

Up to 1 year

593

70.2

128

75.3

>1 - 2 years

100

11.8

19

11.2

>2 - 3 years

43

5.1

5

2.9

>3 - 4 years

23

2.7

2

1.2

>4 - 5 years

15

1.8

6

3.5

>5 - 6 years

11

1.3

3

1.8

>6 - 7 years

8

0.9

2

1.2

>7 - 8 years

13

1.5

1

0.6

>8 - 9 years

8

0.9

1

0.6

>9 - 10 years

7

0.8

2

1.2

>10 - 11 years

8

0.9

1

0.6

>11 - 12 years

3

0.4

0

0

>12 - 13 years

6

0.7

0

0

>13 - 14 years

4

0.5

0

0

>14 - 15 years

1

0.1

0

0

>15 - 16 years

1

0.1

0

0

>16 - 17 years

0

0

0

0

>17 - 18 years

1

0.1

0

0

Total

845

100,0

170

100,0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

  1. The results of the study indicate a high percentage of pet dogs (17.6 %) and cats (10.2 %) in Germany being infected with Giardia.

  2. The prevalence of Giardia in dogs and cats in Germany is higher than reported by former surveys conducted in Germany.

  3. Infections with Giardia occur more often in puppies and kittens than in adult dogs and adult cats.

  4. Feces of pet dogs and cats should be periodically examined for Giardia by of means of coproantigen test or MIFC technique.

  5. Treatment of all dogs and cats infected with Giardia is recommended to cure acute symptoms of giardiasis, to avoid reinfections, and to reduce the potential zoonotic risc for man.

 

 

LITERATURE CITED

Beelitz, P., E. Goebel, and R. Gothe 1992. Fauna and incidence of endoparasites in kittens and their mothers from different husbandry situations in south Germany. Tieraerztl. Prax. 20: 297-300.

 

Blagg, W., L. Schloegel, N.S. Mansour, and G.I. Khalaf 1955. A new concentration technic for the demonstration of protozoa and helminth eggs in feces. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 4: 23-28.

 

Epe, C., S. Ising-Volmer, and M. Stoye 1993. Parasitological fecal studies of equids, dogs, cats and hedgehogs during the years 1984-1991. Dtsch. Tieraerztl. Wochenschr. 100: 426-428.

 

Jungmann, R., Th. Hiepe, and C. Scheffler 1986. Zur parasitären Intestinalfauna bei Hund und Katze mit einem speziellen Beitrag zur Giardia-Infektion. Monatsh. Vet. Med. 41: 309-311.

 

Kirkpatrick, C.E. 1988. Epizootiology of endoparasitic infections in pet dogs and cats presented to a veterinary teaching hospital. Vet. Parasitol. 30: 113-124.

 

Pfeiffer, H. and R. Supperer 1976: Über den Giardiabefall der Hunde und sein Auftreten in Österreich. Wien. Tieraerztl. Monatsschr. 63: 1-6.

 

Sapero, J.J. and D.K. Lawless 1953: The “MIF” Stain-preservation technic for the identification of intestinal protozoa. Am. J. Trop. Hyg. 4: 613-619.

 

Seiler, M., J. Eckert and K. Wolff 1983: Giardia und andere Darmparasiten bei Hund und Katze in der Schweiz. Schweiz. Arch. Tierheilkd. 125: 137-148.

 

Swan, J.M., and R.C.A. Thompson 1986. The prevalence of Giardia in dogs and cats in Perth, Western Australia. Aust. Vet. J. 63: 110-112.

 

Wolff, K., and J. Eckert 1979. Giardia-Befall bei Hund und Katze und dessen mögliche Bedeutung für den Menschen. Berl. Muench. Tieraerztl. Wochenschr. 23: 479-484.