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Infection levels of the cestode Hymenolepis diminuta in rat populations from Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • D. Hancke (a1) and O.V. Suárez (a1)

Ecological studies on zoonotic parasites are crucial for the design and implementation of effective measures to prevent parasite transmission. The aim of this study was to evaluate factors such as season, landscape unit, rat sex and rat body length, affecting the abundance of the cestode Hymenolepis diminuta, a parasite of synanthropic rats, within an urban environment. A parasitological survey was undertaken on 169 rats from landscape units such as shantytowns, parklands, industrial–residential areas and scrap-metal yards in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The overall prevalence of H. diminuta was 21.3%, although the occurrence of this species in rats was not homogeneous. The abundance of H. diminuta, using a zero-inflated negative binomial model, was correlated with rat body length. In shantytowns, abundance levels were higher than other landscape units, largely due to differences in individual environmental characteristics and rat assemblages. The populations of arthropod intermediate hosts could be subjected to seasonal fluctuations and the degree of urbanization. Shantytowns are overcrowded urban marginal settlements with most inhabitants living in precarious conditions and supporting large populations of rats, thereby increasing the risk of zoonotic infection.

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Journal of Helminthology
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