Carriage of zoonotic pathogens by peri-urban wild dogs

Carriage of zoonotic pathogens by peri-urban wild dogs

Dr Lana Harriott (view profile)

Lana HarriottA,B,, Matthew GentleB, Rebecca TraubC Ricardo J. Soares MagalhãesA,D, Rowland CobboldA.

A School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD, 4343, Australia.

B Pest Animal Research Centre, Biosecurity Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Toowoomba, QLD, 4350, Australia

C Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Science, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, 3010

D Child Health Research Centre, University of Queensland, South Brisbane, QLD, 4101


Established wildlife populations within peri-urban and urban environments provide an opportunity for the spread of zoonotic pathogens to and from human-associated environments. Wild dogs, including dingoes (Canis lupus dingo), feral domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), and their cross breeds (hybrids) are common across the Australian mainland. Hybrid populations are particularly common within peri-urban environments and data has shown they frequently reside within 1000 m of houses and buildings. To investigate the diversity and prevalence of zoonotic pathogens in peri-urban wild dogs, a cross sectional survey was undertaken. Utilising council management programs and private trappers, 201 wild dogs were collected for necropsy. Analysis of faecal and blood samples indicated that helminth parasites were common, detected within 79.6 ± 5.4 % of wild dogs tested, however bacterial pathogens were much less prevalent. Echinococcus granulosus was the most prevalent parasite detected (50.7 ± 6.9 %). Hookworms were found to comprise the second most common pathogen of zoonotic significance with an overall prevalence of 28.8% ( 7.1%). Additionally, analyses of stomach contents has suggested that diet composition is a contributing factor to the infection status of wild dogs. This study suggests that wild dogs have an important role in the maintenance of zoonotic pathogens within peri-urban environments. We have provided essential baseline data on the prevalence of pathogens carried by peri-urban wild dog populations in north-eastern Australia. This data can assist in informing the management of wild dogs in peri-urban areas.