Epidemiology and One Health: Collaborative Research Investigating Public Health Challenges Related to Canines in Rural, Urban, and Remote Communities in Canada

Julien, Danielle
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University of Guelph

This thesis is an investigation of public health challenges related to dogs in rural and urban communities in southern Ontario, and in remote Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, using cross-sectional observational studies. First, we conducted a scoping review of canine zoonotic and vectorborne research in North American countries, categorized by the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI). Most research was conducted in “very high” and “high” IHDI countries. Second, the prevalence of Giardia spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. were investigated in dogs in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Using Ecohealth and One Health approaches, feces were collected from three dog populations (sled (n=79), shelter (n=111), and community dogs (n=104)). The fecal prevalence of at least one parasite when one sample was chosen at random for all dogs was 8.16% (95% CI: 5.52-11.92), and of Giardia spp., and Cryptosporidium spp. was 4.42% (95% CI: 2.58-7.49) and 6.12% (95% CI: 3.88-9.53), respectively. We identified Giardia intestinalis, zoonotic assemblage B (n=2), and species-specific D (n=3) and E (n=1); and 5 samples containing Cryptosporidium canis. Third, we explored the prevalence of dog ownership, canine rabies vaccination, and the incidence of self-reported dog bites in humans; knowledge of zoonoses; and sources of dogs as pets in southern Ontario using an online questionnaire of n=1,002 rural and 1,004 urban respondents. The probability of owning at least one dog was higher in rural households than in urban households (OR=1.24, 95% CI: 1.04-1.48, p=0.02). Irrespective of dog ownership, the incidence risk of at least one bite victim over a one-year period in rural households (6.09% per year) was less than in urban households (10.76% per year). Of respondent-owned biting dogs, 16.67% were unvaccinated against rabies. Many respondents were aware of canine zoonoses (55.88%) and there were no differences in awareness between rural and urban respondents. Finally, over a seven-year period, 731 (36.44%) respondents domestically sourced, and 55 (2.74%) imported at least one dog, most frequently from the USA (n=29 of 55 (52.73%)). Findings highlight that in three geographically distinct communities, culturally sensitive and appropriate public health strategies are needed to mitigate risks of public health challenges related to dogs and enhance public knowledge of canine zoonoses.

Epidemiology, Canine zoonoses, One Health, Public Health