High prevalences of Cryptosporidium and Giardia were recently found in enteric illness patients in the Qikiqtaaluk region of Nunavut, Canada, with a foodborne, waterborne or animal source of parasites suspected. Clams (Mya truncata) are a commonly consumed, culturally important and nutritious country food in Iqaluit; however, shellfish may concentrate protozoan pathogens from contaminated waters. The goal of this work was to investigate clams as a potential source of Cryptosporidium and Giardia infections in residents in Iqaluit, Nunavut. The objectives were to estimate the prevalence and genetically characterize Cryptosporidium and Giardia in locally harvested clams. Clams (n = 404) were collected from Iqaluit harvesters in September 2016. Haemolymph (n = 328) and digestive gland (n = 390) samples were screened for Cryptosporidium and Giardia via PCR, and amplified products were further processed for sequence analyses for definitive confirmation. Giardia DNA was found in haemolymph from 2 clams, while Cryptosporidium was not detected. The two Giardia sequences were identified as zoonotic Giardia enterica assemblage B. The overall prevalence of Giardia in clams near Iqaluit was low (0.6%) compared with other studies in southern Canada and elsewhere. The presence of Giardia DNA in clams suggests human or animal faecal contamination of coastal habitat around Iqaluit in shellfish harvesting waters. Results from this study are intended to inform public health practice and planning in Inuit Nunangat.
- country food
- EcoHealth approaches
- Inuit health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases