oa Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases - Endo-parasites of public-health importance recovered from rodents in the Durban metropolitan area, South Africa

Volume 32 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2312-0053



Background: Parasite infections of public health importance carried by Rattus spp. on the African continent (excluding toxoplasmosis) have not been adequately researched. The aim of this study was to investigate endoparasites of public health importance, particularly those associated with R. norvegicus, at different locations and seasons within the port-city, Durban.

Methods: Four hundred rodents (379 R. norvegicus, 10 R. rattus and 11 Mastomys natalensis) were live-trapped at 60 sites in four locations, during wet and dry seasons in 2009. Rats were humanely euthanased, cardiac blood drawn (for blood smears and serology), ectoparasites removed and dissected. Each organ was separately processed to collect parasites. Binary logistic regression and four-way ANOVAs were used to test for the effects of location, season, rodent age and gender on parasite prevalence, richness and abundance.

Results: Eight parasites of public health importance were detected: Gongylonema sp. (25.3%), Trypanosoma lewisi (22.8%), Hymenolepis diminuta (17.2%), Angiostrongylus cantonensis (15.3%), Toxoplasma gondii (11.2%), Moniliformis moniliformis (9.5%), Calodium hepaticum (2.6%) and H. nana (0.8%). Ascaris spp. (probably A. lumbricoides) ova, assumed to have been acquired from consuming infected human faeces were found in rat faeces (4.8%). Parasite species richness was positively associated with location, season and rodent age. Location, season, rat age and gender differentially affected prevalence and worm abundance of parasite species.

Conclusions: These occurrence data of parasites of public health importance provide valuable information to local and provincial organisations and medical practitioners for diagnoses of possible zoonoses, and a reference point for further studies in metropolitan areas of Africa.

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