Presence of Cryptosporidium spp. in avian faecal samples from an English urban environment
Cryptosporidium parvum and C. hominis have been described as protozoan emerging human parasites that can severely affect immunocompromised patients worldwide for which an early stage diagnosis is critical for appropriate prognosis. These cryptosporidia species can also affect immunocompetent individuals and have recently been related to serious outbreaks in the United Kingdom (UK). Zoonotic transmission has been suggested for these two human-pathogenic species; however, there is little understanding of the presence and distribution of these emerging pathogens in urban areas despite exponential urban expansion. As a result, we have performed a pilot project to explore the presence and circulation of Cryptosporidium spp. in avian faecal samples collected from an urban area highly frequented in Leicester city centre (UK). Thus, 54 stool samples were collected from New Walk (LE1 6TE), a Georgian pedestrian promenade which contains green areas a museum and different public and private houses, between December 2016 to January 2017. A veterinarian identified the avian species as: 21 waterfowl, 16 pigeon, 6 songbird, 1 fruit eater and 10 uncertain due to diarrhoea. Preliminary screening of the samples was performed with Kinyoun's acid-fast staining; observation of a minimum of three oocysts per sample was used as a diagnostic tool to identify animals that could play a role in the environmental distribution of these parasites. Structures related to Cryptosporidium spp. were detected in three samples (5.5%), from different avian species (songbird, pigeon and uncertain), which may indicate that these parasites could interact with different avian species. Thus, potential interventions to protect human health, if they were required, should consider a range of avian species, although previous identification of Cryptosporidium oocysts found in these samples to species level is necessary to identify if the presence of these parasites in New Walk could represent a risk for the Leicester community and visitors. A deeper understanding of the presence and distribution of human-related Cryptosporidium spp. in the UK urban environment is required to identify risks points that should be regularly and appropriately decontaminated to minimise outbreaks.
Citation : Anjum, U., Acosta, L., Raim, J., Izquierdo, F., Magnet, A., Peña-Fernandez, A. (2019) Presence of Cryptosporidium spp. in avian faecal samples from an English urban environment. XXI Spanish Congress of Parasitology (SOCEPA), Pontevedra, Spain, 3rd to 5th July 2019.
Research Institute : Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)
Peer Reviewed : Yes