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Dogs and the classic route of Guinea Worm transmission: an evaluation of copepod ingestion.

Abstract

Dracunculus medinensis, the causative agent of Guinea worm disease in humans, is being reported with increasing frequency in dogs. However, the route(s) of transmission to dogs is still poorly understood. Classical transmission to humans occurs via drinking water that contains cyclopoid copepods infected with third stage larvae of D. medinensis, but due to the method of dog drinking (lapping) compared to humans (suction and/or retrieval of water into containers), it seems unlikely that dogs would ingest copepods readily through drinking. We exposed lab raised beagles to varying densities of uninfected copepods in 2 liters of water to evaluate the number of copepods ingested during a drinking event. We confirmed dogs can ingest copepod intermediate hosts while drinking; however, low numbers were ingested at the densities that are typically observed in Chad suggesting this transmission route may be unlikely. Overall, the relative importance of the classic transmission route and alternate transmission routes, such as paratenic and transport hosts, needs investigation in order to further clarify the epidemiology of guinea worm infections in dogs.

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