OBJECTIVE To determine the extent of environmental exposure to heteroxenous coccidia from wild canid feces in southeastern Ohio.
SAMPLE 285 presumed wild canid fecal samples collected across an ecological system in southeastern Ohio.
PROCEDURES Morphological classification and molecular analysis were used to determine the canid genus for collected fecal samples. Microscopic and molecular analysis were used to detect coccidian oocysts and DNA. Several variables were analyzed for associations with coccidian DNA detection or prevalence.
RESULTS Coccidian DNA was detected in 51 of 285 (17.9%) fecal samples. Of those positive samples, 1% (95% confidence interval, 0.4% to 3%) had positive results for Hammondia heydorni and none had positive results for Neospora caninum, for an estimated environmental N caninum prevalence of 0% (95% confidence interval, 0% to 7%)/1-km2 hexagonal area evaluated. Morphological classification revealed that 78.9% (225/285) of fecal samples were from coyotes and 17.2% (49/285) were from foxes. No difference in proportions of coccidian DNA-positive fecal samples was identified among canid species. Environmental temperature and fecal freshness were associated with coccidian DNA detection. Land use type, relative canid density, and cattle density were not associated with the prevalence of coccidian DNA-positive samples.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE The low prevalence of coccidia shed in wild canid feces in this study, including the estimated 0% environmental prevalence of N caninum, suggested that the role of the oocyst environmental phase in coccidia transmission to ruminants is likely minor in rural southeastern Ohio.