Cryptosporidium spp. and giardia spp. in free-ranging introduced monk parakeets from Santiago, Chile
Sandoval Rodríguez, Alejandra
Marcone Dapelo, Daniela Teresa
Alegría Morán, Raúl Alejandro
Larraechea Bascuñán, Matilde
Fredes Martínez, Fernando Guillermo
Briceño Urzúa, Cristóbal
Cita de ítem
Animals 2021, 11, 801.
Monk Parakeets are medium-sized parrots that were internationally traded as
pets and that as a byproduct have become invasive species in 19 countries. This is the case of Chile,
where Monk Parakeets have thrived in the city of Santiago. Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. are
parasites that can affect the digestive system of a wide variety of animals, including humans and birds.
This study sought to determine the occurrence of these parasites within Monk Parakeets from the city
of Santiago. To do this, 207 fecal samples from Monk Parakeet nestlings that were captured during
the summer seasons of 2017 and 2018 were analyzed. Environmental data related to the trees in which
the nestlings were captured was studied in order to the determine the existence of areas more prone
to have infected parakeets and whether certain environmental variables influence the presence or
absence of these parasites in Monk Parakeets. In total, 33 samples were positive to the presence of one
or both parasites. Of the 33, 10 nestlings (30%) were infected with Cryptosporidium spp. and 25 (76%)
with Giardia spp. Two nestlings were infected with both parasites (6%). Environmental analyses
revealed that pruned trees might constitute a protective factor against infection with these parasites.
These findings emphasize Monk Parakeet’s potential role as a disease disseminator, especially in
Monk Parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus) are medium-sized parrots that due to international
pet trade currently exist as invasive species in 19 countries globally. Such is the case of Chile, where
Monk Parakeets have thrived in the city of Santiago. Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. are
worldwide distributed gastrointestinal parasites whose potential hosts include birds and humans.
The present study sought to determine the presence of these pathogens in Monk Parakeets from
Santiago. During the austral summers of 2017 and 2018, 207 Monk Parakeet nestlings were captured,
and fecal samples were studied via microscopical analyses. Environmental data related to the trees
in which the nestlings were captured were analyzed to establish the existence of infection clusters.
Associations between spatial clusters, environmental variables, and the presence or absence of these
pathogens were explored. In total, 33 samples were positive to the presence of one or both protozoa.
Of the 33, Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts were detected in 10 nestlings (30%) while Giardia spp.
cysts were detected in 25 (76%). Two nestlings presented poly-parasitism (6%). Statistical analyses
established pruned trees as a potential protective factor against infection with these parasites. The
present study corresponds to the second report of Cryptosporidium spp. in Monk Parakeets in Chile
and the first worldwide report of Giardia spp. in these birds, emphasizing Monk Parakeet’s potential
role as a reservoir and pathogen disseminator, especially in urban environments.
National Agency for Research and Development (ANID)/FONDECYT Initiation 11160852
ANID/Scholarship Program/BECA DE DOCTORADO NACIONAL 2018-21181241
Type of license
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States