Is microspiridial infection in animals a potential source for human microsporidiosis?

O. Matos, M.L. Lobo, A. Teles, F. Antunes

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Microsporidiosis is an emerging infectious disease among a rapidly-broadening clinical spectrum of diseases that can cause significant morbidity in immunocompromized and immunocompetent patients, especially in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Acquired infection seems to occur from personto- person transmission or from other sources (eg water, food, and animals). Several microsporidia species that are pathogenic for humans have been identified in domestic and wild animals. The aims of this study were to determine the presence of microsporidian spores in stool samples from animals and to identify the species implicated in infection, in Portugal. A total of 352 stool samples from animals (117 pets, 99 animals from the Zoo, 51 bovines, and 85 sylvatic animals) were studied. Modified trichrome stain, IFA with MAb 3B6 and PCR with species-specific primers for Enterocytozoon bieneusi, Encephalitozoon intestinalis, E. cuniculi, and E. hellem SSU-rRNA gene followed by nucleotide sequencing were the methods used. Microsporidian spores were identified in stools from 32 (27%) pets and 15 (15%) animals from the Zoo, presenting 38 (81%) of these animals with low to moderate parasite loads. All stool samples from small rodents were negative for microsporidia by MT and IFA. By PCR, 13 isolates (4 from cats, 3 from dogs, 1 from a white-fronted marmoset, and 5 from bovines) were identified as being E. bieneusi-positive and confirmed by sequencing. In conclusion, animals in close contact with humans harbor microsporidia species also identified in humans, releasing spores into the environment with feces that can be a source of human infection. This study sets the framework for further studies on the epidemiology of microsporidia infection in Portugal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-53
JournalSoutheast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health
Issue numberSuppl. 1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2004


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