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Keywords:

  • Giardia;
  • children;
  • dogs;
  • zoonoses;
  • Rom community;
  • Italy

Summary

Molecular characterization of Giardia duodenalis cysts from humans and animals living in well-defined contexts is useful to study the circulation of isolates and represents a tool to evaluate zoonotic infection risk. The presence of giardiasis in children living in a disadvantaged and socially deprived small Rom community, as well in dogs roaming freely in the same context was carried out by microscopic analysis and beta-giardin gene amplification. Five out of 14 children were found positive at microscopic examination for G. duodenalis and six positive at PCR, while eight out of 14 dogs tested both microscopically and molecularly positive for G. duodenalis. Moreover, most of the children and dogs were symptomatic. Molecular characterization of Giardia positive samples from children and dogs showed 99.5% identity with Giardia Assemblage A1. The dog-specific genotypes C and D were not found. The findings of this survey provide the first European evidence to support the possible role of dogs in zoonotic transmission involving children and stray dogs in a closed context with very low standards of hygiene (i.e. Rom community), and these results show the need to monitor the health of marginal populations to safeguard ethnic minority groups.