First study of Cryptosporidium spp. occurrence in eared doves (Zenaida auriculata)
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Abstract Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite with a wide range of hosts, including humans. However, only a few Cryptosporidium species have been described in birds (C. meleagridis, C. baileyi, C. galli and C. avium). The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of Cryptosporidium spp. in feces of eared doves (Zenaida auriculata), followed by molecular characterization of the parasite. A total of 196 animals of both sexes were trap-captured; the animals were culled and the intestinal contents were collected for DNA extraction. After extraction, a nested-PCR (nPCR), which amplifies a fragment of the 18S rRNA gene of Cryptosporidium spp., was performed. The amplicons obtained were purified and sequenced. PCR analysis revealed that 30 animals (15.3%) were positive for Cryptosporidium spp. There was no significant sex-dependent enrichment of Cryptosporidium occurrence (p > 0.05). Only 15 out of the 30 positive samples were successfully sequenced and their species determined, of which, 13 (86.7%) and 2 (13.3%) were C. meleagridis and C. galli, respectively. Herein, we present for the first time a molecular characterization of Cryptosporidium from feces of eared doves (Z. auriculata) and propose that these birds are a potential source of C. meleagridis infection in humans.