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An Investigation of Potentially Zoonotic Helminth Parasites of Allactaga elaterin Sarakhs, Iran

Atousa Shahrokhi1, Nona Moradpour2*, Roohollah Siahsarvie3, and Hassan Borji1,*

1 Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

2 Rodentology Research Department, Institute of Applied Zoology, Faculty of Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

3 Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran


Introduction: Rodents are the reservoir of many endoparasites and act as their intermediate or final hosts. This studyaimed to assess parasitic helminths of Allactaga elaterin Sarakhs, Khorasan Razavi Province, northeastern Iran.Materials and methods: From August 2017 to February 2018,33 Allactaga elater were collected using live traps. All Allactaga elaters were euthanized, and their gastrointestinal tracts were removed and examined to identify parasitic helminths. Finally, parasites were identified using key morphological characteristics.Results:Overall, 91% of Allactaga elaters were infected with helminths, including Syphacia obvelata (86.6%), Aspicularis tetraptera (36.6%), Trichuris spp (13.3%), Heligmosomoides polygyrus(3.3%), Hymenolepis nana (16.6%), Hymenolepis diminuta(16.6%), and Cysticercus fasciolaris(13.3%).Conclusion:Various species of helminths were found in Allactaga elaterfrom the studied area. These findings highlight the importance of this rodent species as a reservoir for zoonotic helminths.

1. Introduction:

Allactaga elateris a rat-sized five-toed jerboabelonging to the familyDipodidae1. The coat of Allactaga elater is velvety, with sandy color upperparts and whitish underparts. The tail tuft is black but white at the point2. The five-toed jerboas are decent excavators and joggers. They can run at a speed of 40 kilometers per hour. They use their burrows for various purposes, such as resting, evading hunters and high temperatures, caring for progenies, and winter hibernation2. The diet ofAllactaga elaterincludes invertebrates, like insects, seeds, leaves, stems, and roots of plants3. They are specialized herbivores4,5, and the mode of locomotion in theAllactaga elateris jumping. They can be found in desert areas of Asia and some parts of Europe, such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Armenia, Iran, Russia, Turkey, Georgia, and Turkmenistan6,7. Rodents, includingAllactaga elater, have an important role as a host of many parasitic agents, either zoonotic or those threatening rodents’ health, such as oxyuriasis8. One of the most life-threatening parasitic diseases with a high fatality rate is echinococcosis.Echinococcosis is a disease caused byEchinococcusspecies, including different types, such as cystic and alveolar echinococcosis9.Alveolar echinococcosis, caused bythe metacestode of Echinococcus multilocularis, is a fatal zoonotic disease10. Regarding geographical distribution, it could be found mostly in the northern hemisphere, including the Middle East11-14. The life cycle of Echinococcusmultilocularisincludesadult worms that are found in wild carnivores,and metacestodes developed in small mammals, especially rodents such asAllactaga elater15.

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