One Health Approach to Zoonotic Parasites: Molecular Detection of Intestinal Protozoans in an Urban Population of Norway Rats, Rattus norvegicus, in Barcelona, Spain
Rattus norvegicus, the brown or Norway rat, is the most abundant mammal after humans in urban areas, where they live in close proximity to people. Among rodent-borne diseases, the reservoir role of Norway rats of zoonotic parasites in cities has practically been ignored. Considering the parasitic diseases in the One Health approach, we intended to identify and quantify the zoonotic intestinal protozoans (ZIP) in an urban population of R. norvegicus in the city of Barcelona, Spain. We studied the presence of ZIP in 100 rats trapped in parks (n = 15) as well as in the city's sewage system (n = 85) in the winter of 2016/17. The protozoans were molecularly identified by means of a multiplex PCR (AllplexTM Gastrointestinal Panel-Parasite Assay). We also investigated the presence of co-infections among the species found. Four ZIP were identified, presenting significant prevalences in sewers, specifically Blastocystis (83.5%), Giardia duodenalis (37.7%), Cryptosporidium spp. (34.1%), and Dientamoeba fragilis (14.1%). Several co-infections among the detected ZIP were also detected. The reservoir role of ZIP that Norway rats play in cities as well as the role rats may play as sentinels of zoonotic parasites affecting humans in urban areas are strongly backed up by our findings. The increasing worldwide urbanization, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic are factors that are producing an increase in human-rat interactions. Our results should be considered a warning to the authorities to intensify rat control and surveillance in public health interventions.
Galán Puchades, María Teresa Trelis Villanueva, María Sáez Durán, Sandra Cifre, Susana Gosálvez, Carla Sanxís, Joan Pascual, Jordi Bueno Marí, Rubén Franco, Sandra Peracho, Víctor Montalvo, Tomás Fuentes i Ferrer, Màrius Vicent 2021 One Health Approach to Zoonotic Parasites: Molecular Detection of Intestinal Protozoans in an Urban Population of Norway Rats, Rattus norvegicus, in Barcelona, Spain Pathogens 10 311