Giardia duodenalis is an intestinal protozoan capable of causing gastrointestinal disease in a range of vertebrate hosts. It is transmitted via the fecal-oral route. Understanding the epidemiology of G. duodenalis in animals is important, both for public health and for the health of the animals it infects. We investigated the occurrence of G. duodenalis in wild Swedish red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), with the aim of providing preliminary information on how this abundant predator might be involved in the transmission and epidemiology of G. duodenalis. Fecal samples (n=104) were analysed for G. duodenalis using a commercially available direct immunofluorescent antibody test. Giardia duodenalis cysts were found in 44% (46/104) of samples, with foxes excreting 100 to 140,500 cysts per gram of feces (mean, 4,930; median, 600). Molecular analysis, using PCR with sequencing of PCR amplicons, was performed on 14 samples, all containing over 2,000 cysts per gram feces. Amplification only occurred in four samples at the tpi gene, sequencing of which revealed assemblage B in all four samples. This study provides baseline information on the role of red foxes in the transmission dynamics of G. duodenalis in Sweden.
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Vol. 53 • No. 3