Molecular identification of zoonotic hookworms in dogs from four counties of Kenya.
All canine hookworms are known to be zoonotic, causing infections ranging from transient skin irritations to prolonged 'creeping eruptions', eosinophilic enteritis and even patent intestinal infections. There is little information on canine hookworm species and their public health significance in sub-Saharan Africa. This study determined the prevalence and species of hookworms in dogs from different climatic zones of Kenya. Dog faecal samples were collected from the environment, and hookworm eggs were isolated by zinc chloride flotation and subjected to DNA extraction. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays targeting the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) 1 and 2, 5.8S and 28S ribosomal RNA of Ancylostoma spp. and Uncinaria stenocephala were performed, and hookworm species were identified by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) or DNA sequencing. Hookworm eggs were detected by microscopy in 490/1621 (30.23%, 95% CI 28.01-32.54) faecal samples. Estimates of faecal prevalence were high in counties receiving higher rainfall (Narok 46.80%, Meru 44.88%) and low in those with a more arid climate (Isiolo 19.73%, Turkana 11.83%). In a subset of 70 faecal samples, Ancylostoma caninum (n = 59) was the most common species, followed by A. braziliense (n = 10) and A. cf. duodenale (n = 1). This study reports for the first time the detection of A. cf. duodenale in dog faeces and zoonotic hookworm species in Kenyan dogs. These findings emphasize the need for control measures such as enforcing laws for restraining stray dogs, regular deworming of dogs, and public health awareness programmes aimed at informing communities on outdoor use of footwear.