Investigation into potential transmission sources of Giardia duodenalis in a threatened marsupial (Petrogale penicillata)
Assemblages of the protozoan parasite Giardia duodenalis common in humans and domestic species are increasingly identified in wildlife species, raising concern about the spill-over of pathogens from humans and domestic animals into wildlife. Here, the identity and prevalence of G. duodenalis in populations of a threatened marsupial, the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata), was investigated. Identification of G. duodenalis isolates, across three loci (18S rRNA, β-giardin and gdh), from rock-wallaby fecal samples (n = 318) identified an overall detection rate of 6.3%. No significant difference in G. duodenalis detection was found among captive, wild and supplemented populations. Isolates were assigned to the zoonotic assemblages A and B at 18S rRNA, with sub-assemblages AI and BIV identified at the β-giardin and gdh loci, respectively. Assemblages AI and BIV have previously been identified in human clinical cases, but also in domestic animals and wildlife. The identification of these assemblages in brush-tailed rock-wallabies suggests there are transmission routes of G. duodenalis from humans or other animals to Australian wildlife, both in captivity and in the wild.