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Keywords:

  • Fecal IgA;
  • Immunity;
  • Leukocyte phagocytosis;
  • Microflora;
  • Protozoa

Background: Giardiasis is a common, potentially zoonotic disease, and dogs often harbor and shed cysts without showing clinical signs. Treatment with the probiotic Enterococcus faecium SF68 has been shown to stimulate mucosal and systemic immunity in a variety of animal models and in young dogs, and to reduce giardial cyst and antigen shedding in rodents.

Hypothesis: Adult dogs with chronic naturally acquired giardiasis will have decreased giardial fecal cyst and antigen shedding and increased innate and adaptive immunity after 6 weeks probiotic treatment with E. faecium SF68.

Animals: Twenty adult dogs.

Methods: After a 6-week dietary equilibration period, dogs were randomized to receive E. faecium SF68 or placebo for 6 weeks, and then crossed over to the alternate treatment. We measured cyst shedding, fecal giardial antigen, fecal immunoglobulin A (IgA) concentration, and circulating leukocyte phagocytic activity at multiple timepoints to determine the effect of E. faecium SF68 on giardiasis and immune responses in these dogs.

Results: No differences were observed between placebo or E. faecium SF68 treatment for giardial cyst shedding, fecal antigen shedding, fecal IgA concentration, or leukocyte phagocytic activity.

Conclusions: Short-term treatment with E. faecium SF68 of dogs with chronic naturally acquired subclinical giardiasis fails to affect giardial cyst shedding or antigen content and does not alter innate or adaptive immune responses.