Parasitol Res 2014 Aug 7;113(8):3041-8. Epub 2014 Jun 7.
College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou, 450002, China.
Enteric protozoa are frequently found in snakes. Nevertheless, few studies regarding genetic characterization of these parasites have been carried out. We describe here the first molecular survey of protozoan pathogens from snakes in China and the first report on Enterocytozoon bieneusi genotyping in snakes in the world. Here, 240 fecal specimens were collected from two species of captive snakes, Naja naja (Indian cobra) and Ptyas mucosus (Oriental rat snake), in Guangxi Province, China, and examined by PCR amplification of the small subunit-ribosomal RNA of enteric protozoa and the internal transcribed spacer of ribosomal RNA of E. bieneusi. Cryptosporidium serpentis was identified in three specimens (2.1%) of Oriental rat snakes. Caryospora was found in 5.4% specimens, including eight from cobras (8.1%) and five from rat snakes (3.6%), and represented six new species-Caryospora sp. SKC-2014a to Caryospora sp. SKC-2014 f. Three new Eimeria species, Eimeria sp. SKE-2014a to Eimeria sp. SKE-2014c, were detected in three specimens (2.1%) from rat snakes. Additionally, Sarcocystis sp. SKS-2014 was detected in one specimen from a cobra. The infection rates of E. bieneusi were 3.0% in cobras and 5.7% in rat snakes. Sequence analysis of 11 PCR products revealed the presence of six E. bieneusi genotypes-two known genotypes (type IV and Henan V) and four new genotypes (CRep-1 to CRep-4). All six E. bieneusi genotypes belonged to the zoonotic group (group 1). This result raised the possibility that E. bieneusi could be present in animals consumed by snakes. This should be taken into consideration to better understand the diversity of the parasite, its transmission through the predator-prey relationship, and public health implications.
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