Fecal analysis is commonly used to estimate prevalence and intensity of intestinal helminths in wild carnivores, but few studies have assessed the reliability of fecal flotation compared to analysis of intestinal tracts. We investigated sensitivity of the double centrifugation sugar fecal flotation and kappa agreement between fecal flotation and postmortem examination of intestines for helminths of coyotes (Canis latrans). We analyzed 57 coyote carcasses that were collected between October 2010 and March 2011 in the metropolitan area of Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Before analyses, intestines and feces were frozen at 280 C for 72 hr to inactivate Echinococcus eggs, protecting operators from potential exposure. Five species of helminths were found by postmortem examination, including Toxascaris leonina, Uncinaria stenocephala, Ancylostoma caninum, Taenia sp., and Echinococcus multilocularis. Sensitivity of fecal flotation was high (0.84) for detection of T. leonina but low for Taenia sp. (0.27), E. multilocularis (0.46), and U. stenocephala (0.00). Good kappa agreement between techniques was observed only for T. leonina (0.64), for which we detected also a significant correlation between adult female parasite intensity and fecal egg counts (Rs=0.53, P=0.01). Differences in sensitivity may be related to parasite characteristics that affect recovery of eggs on flotation. Fecal parasitologic analyses are highly applicable to study the disease ecology of urban carnivores, and they often provide important information on environmental contamination and potential of zoonotic risks. However, fecal-based parasitologic surveys should first assess the sensitivity of the techniques to understand their biases and limitations.
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