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Parasite Communities In Stray Cat Populations From Lisbon, Portugal

H. Waap, J. Gomes, T. Nunes

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AbstractStray cats live in high-density colonies in urban areas and pose a health hazard to household cats and humans. In Portugal, information on the parasitic fauna of stray cats is limited and relies mostly on results from faecal analysis. The present survey aimed to determine the prevalence, diversity and intensity of parasites in stray cats from the urban area of Lisbon by means of parasitological necropsy. Internal organs were collected from 162 cats captured in different areas of the city and systematically subjected to parasitological dissection. Helminths were identified by macro- and microscopic examination and protozoa by faecal floatation and sedimentation techniques. The overall prevalence of parasites was 90.7% (95% confidence interval (CI): 85.3–94.6%). A total of 12 parasite species was recorded:Cystoisospora felis(14.2%),Cystoisospora rivolta(46.3%),Sarcocystissp. (1.2%),Ancylostoma tubaeforme(19.1%),Toxocara cati(38.3%),Ollulanus tricuspis(30.9%),Aelurostrongylus abstrusus(12.4%), Eucoleus aerophilus(0.6%),Taenia taeniaeformis(3.1%),Dipylidium caninum(53.1%),Joyeuxiella pasqualei(15.4%) andDiplopylidium nölleri(3.7%). Overall mean species richness was 2.36 ±  1.52. Helminth mean intensity was highest forO. tricuspis(285.8), followed byD. caninum(42.4),J. pasqualei(14.4),A. tubaeforme(8.1) andT. cati(5.9). The prevalence and variety of parasites found in our sampling are substantially higher than the numbers previously reported in Portugal. Some of the parasites, includingT. catiandA. tubaeforme,are zoonotic, which emphasizes the need for parasite control strategies based on demographic containment of stray cat populations in urban areas to promote public health protection.