Scientists have discovered that donkeys in Israel have been carrying two parasites that can affect humans that can cause poor sanitation
By CODY LEVINE
Scientists have discovered that donkeys in Israel have been carrying the parasites Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora, a major pathogenic parasite that can affect humans, according to a report on the Horsetalk website on Sunday, citing the original research.
The cyst-forming parasites have two-host life cycles, originating in cats and dogs, both of whom host T. gondii and N. caninum. The two parasites can infect various animal species, where they form tissue cysts and may cause abortions and neurological disease. Both of these parasites have been reported in the wild and domestic animals in Israel.
A total of 98 donkeys in Israel were examined, half of them from animal shelters, and the other half working donkeys from the Palestinian Authority. Nevetheless, antibodies against T. gondii were found in 94% of the donkeys and antibodies against Neospora species were found in 70% of the animals.
The N. caninum cysts were detected in two of the donkeys.
“This is the first report of the exposure of donkeys to Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora species in the area,” the study team said.
“The exposure of donkeys to both parasites was considerably higher than the exposure of other species in the area and may be the result of poor husbandry conditions and higher exposure to infection. The high prevalence found in this study suggests that donkeys may have a role in the maintenance of these parasites in the area, thus serving as a source of infection for the definitive hosts.”
A common finding was that high exposure to both parasites may have been the result of poor sanitation tied to low-income populations, which increases the chances of water-borne exposure to the parasites.
“Half of the donkeys in this survey were sampled in animal shelters that receive neglected donkeys from various locations, while the other half were sampled in Arab villages in the Palestinian Authority, by a veterinarian giving free veterinary care through a humanitarian organization.
The researchers, which included haron Tirosh-Levy , Amir Steinman, Avital Minderigiu, Ori Arieli, Igor Savitski, Ludmila Fleiderovitz, Nir Edery, Gili Schvartz and Monica Leszkowicz Mazuz, conducted their work with support from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Kimron Veterinary Institute in Bet Dagan, Israel.
Originally published at Jerusalem post