Potential role of beavers (Castor fiber) in contamination of water in the Masurian Lake District (north-eastern Poland) with protozoan parasites Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia duodenalis

Open access


The purpose of this study was to assess the possible influence of beavers on the contamination of lake water with zoonotic parasites Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp., with respect to the risk to human health. A total of 79 water samples were taken around the habitats of beavers from 14 localities situated in the recreational Masurian Lake District (north-eastern Poland). Water was sampled in the spring and autumn seasons, at different distances from beavers’ lodges (0-2, 10, 30, and 50 m). The samples were examined for the presence of (oo)cysts of zoonotic protozoa Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. by direct fluorescence assay (DFA) and by nested and real time PCR. By DFA, the presence of Giardia cysts was found in 36 samples (45.6%) and the presence of Cryptosporidium oocysts in 26 samples (32.9%). Numbers of Giardia cysts, Cryptosporidium oocysts, and summarised (oo)cysts of both parasites showed a significant variation depending on locality. The numbers of Giardia cysts significantly decreased with the distance from beavers’ lodges while the numbers of Cryptosporidium oocysts did not show such dependence. The amount of Giardia cysts in samples collected in spring was approximately 3 times higher than in autumn. Conversely, a larger number of Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected in samples collected in autumn than in spring. By PCR, Giardia DNA was found in 38 samples (48.1%) whereas DNA of Cryptosporidium was found in only 7 samples (8.9%). Eleven Giardia isolates were subjected to phylogenetic analysis by restriction fragment length polymorphism PCR or sequencing which evidenced their belonging to zoonotic assemblages: A (3 isolates) and B (8 isolates). In conclusion, water in the vicinity of beavers’ lodges in the tested region was markedly contaminated with (oo)cysts of Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp., which confirms the potential role of beavers as a reservoir of these parasites and indicates a need for implementation of appropriate preventive measures to protect tourists’ health.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1. Appelbee A. Thorlakson C. Olson M.: Genotypic characterization of Giardia cysts isolated from wild beaver in southern Alberta Canada. In: Giardia: The Cosmopolitan Parasite. Edited by Olson B.E. Olson M.E. Wallis P.M. CAB International Wallingford UK 2002 pp. 299-300.

  • 2. Bajer A.: Cryptosporidium and Giardia spp. infections in humans animals and the environment in Poland. Parasitol Res 2008 104 1-17.

  • 3. Bajer A. Toczylowska B. Bednarska M. Sinski E.: Effectiveness of water treatment for the removal of Cryptosporidium and Giardia spp. Epidemiol Infect 2012 140 2014-2022.

  • 4. Cacciò S.M. De Giacomo M. Pozio E.: Sequence analysis of the beta-giardin gene and development of a polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism assay to genotype Giardia duodenalis cysts from human faecal samples. Int J Parasitol 2002 32 1023-1030.

  • 5. Dawson D.: Foodborne protozoan parasites. Int J Food Microbiol 2005 103 207-227.

  • 6. Demiaszkiewicz A.W. Lachowicz J. Kuligowska I. Pyziel A.M. Bełżecki G. Miltko R. Kowalik B. Gogola W. Giżejewski Z.: Endoparasites of the European beaver (Castor fiber L. 1758) in north-eastern Poland. Bull Vet Inst Pulawy 2014 58 223-227.

  • 7. Dillingham R.A. Lima A.A. Guerrant R.L.: Cryptosporidiosis: epidemiology and impact. Microbes Infect 2002 4 1059-1066.

  • 8. Dunlap B.G. Thies M.L.: Giardia in beaver (Castor canadensis) and nutria (Myocastor coypus) from east Texas. J Parasitol 2002 88 1254-1258.

  • 9. Erlandsen S.L. Sherlock L.A. Bemrick W.J. Ghobrial H. Jakubowski W.: Prevalence of Giardia spp. in beaver and muskrat populations in northeastern states and Minnesota: detection of intestinal trophozoites at necropsy provides greater sensitivity than detection of cysts in fecal samples. Appl Environ Microbiol 1990 56 31-36.

  • 10. Fayer R. Morgan U. Upton S.J.: Epidemiology of Cryptosporidium: transmission detection and identification. Int J Parasitol 2000 30 1305-1322.

  • 11. Guy R.A. Payment P. Krull U.J. Horgen P.A.: Real-time PCR for quantification of Giardia and Cryptosporidium in environmental water samples and sewage. App Environ Microbiol 2003 69 5178-5185.

  • 12. Guy R.A. Xiao C. Horgen P.A.: Real-time PCR assay for detection and genotype differentiation of Giardia lamblia in stool specimens. J Clin Microbiol 2004 42 3317-3320.

  • 13. Isaac-Renton J.L. Moricz M.M. Proctor E.M.: Giardia survey of fur-bearing water mammals in British Columbia Canada. J Environ. Health 1987 50 80-83.

  • 14. Lalle M. Pozio E. Capelli G. Bruschi F. Crotti D. Caccio S.M.: Genetic heterogeneity at the beta-giardin locus among human and animal isolates of Giardia duodenalis and identification of potentially zoonotic subgenotypes. Int J Parasitol 2005 35 207-213.

  • 15. Majewska A.C. Sulima P. Werner A. Barałkiewicz G. Juszczyk J. Pieniążek N.J.: Cryptosporidiosis in HIV-positive patients - first study in Poland. Wiad Parazytol 1998 44 320.

  • 16. National Institute of Hygiene National Research Center of Public Health. Annual report 2014 on cases of infectious diseases and toxic effects of chemical substances notified in 2013-14. http://www.pzh.gov.pl/oldpage/epimeld/2014/INF_14_12A.pdf (access: 2014.12.21).

  • 17. Paz e Silva F.M. Monobe M.M. Lopes R.S. Araujo J.P. Jr.: Molecular characterization of Giardia duodenalis in dogs from Brazil. Parasitol Res 2011 110 325-334.

  • 18. Paziewska A. Bednarska M. Niewęgłowski H. Karbowiak G. Bajer A.: Distribution of Cryptosporidium and Giardia spp. in selected species of protected and game mammals from North- Eastern Poland. Ann Agric Environ Med 2007 14 265-270.

  • 19. Santin M. Trout J.M. Xiao L. Zhou L. Greiner E. Fayer R.: Prevalence and age-related variation of Cryptosporidium species and genotypes in dairy calves. Vet Parasitol 2004 122 103-117.

  • 20. Schets F.M. van Wijnen J.H. Schijven J.F. Schoon H. de Roda Husman A.M.: Monitoring of waterborne pathogens in surface waters in Amsterdam the Netherlands and the potential health risk associated with exposure to Cryptosporidium and Giardia in these waters. Appl Environ Microbiol 2008 74 2069-2078.

  • 21. Smith H.V. Caccio S.M. Tait A. McLauchlin J. Thompson R.C.: Tools for investigating the environmental transmission of Cryptosporidium and Giardia infections in humans. Trends Parasitol 2006 22 160-167.

  • 22. Tamura K. Peterson D. Peterson N. Stecher G. Nei M. Kumar S.: MEGA5: molecular evolutionary genetics analysis using maximum likelihood evolutionary distance and maximum parsimony methods. Mol Biol Evol 2011 28 2731-2739.

  • 23. Thompson J. Higgins D. Gibson T.: CLUSTAL W: improving the sensitivity of progressive multiple sequence alignment through sequence weighting position-specific gap penalties and weight matrix choice. Nucleic Acids Res 1994 22 4673-4680.

  • 24. Thompson R.C.: The zoonotic significance and molecular epidemiology of Giardia and giardiasis. Vet Parasitol 2004 126 15-35.

  • 25. US EPA method 1623. Cryptosporidium and Giardia in water by filtration/IMS/FA. EPA-821-R-01-025 2001 pp. 1-58.

  • 26. Xiao L. Alderisio K. Limor J. Royer M. Lal A.A.: Identification of species and sources of Cryptosporidium oocysts in storm waters with a small-subunit rRNA based diagnostic and genotyping tool. Appl Environ Microbiol 2000 66 5492-5498.

Journal information
Impact Factor

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0,829
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0,938

CiteScore 2018: 0.68

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.291
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.501

Cited By
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 316 193 6
PDF Downloads 133 97 0