Donkey Fascioliasis Within a One Health Control Action: Transmission Capacity, Field Epidemiology, and Reservoir Role in a Human Hyperendemic Area

Santiago Mas-Coma, Paola Buchon, Ilra R. Funatsu, Rene Angles, Cristina Mas-Bargues, Patricio Artigas, M. Adela Valero, M. Dolores Bargues

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7 Scopus citations


A One Health initiative has been implemented for fascioliasis control in a human hyperendemic area for the first time. The area selected for this multidisciplinary approach is the Northern Bolivian Altiplano, where the highest prevalences and intensities in humans have been reported. Within the strategic intervention axis of control activities concerning animal reservoirs, complete experimental studies, and field surveys have been performed to assess the fascioliasis transmission capacity and epidemiological role of the donkey for the first time. Laboratory studies with altiplanic donkey-infecting Fasciola hepatica and altiplanic Galba truncatula snail vector isolates demonstrate that the donkey assures the viability of the whole fasciolid life cycle. Several aspects indicate, however, that F. hepatica does not reach, in the donkey, the level of adaptation it shows in sheep and cattle in this high altitude hyperendemic area. This is illustrated by a few-day delay in egg embryonation, longer prepatent period despite similar miracidial infectivity and shorter patent period in the intramolluscan development, lower cercarial production per snail, different cercarial chronobiology, shorter snail survival after shedding end, shorter longevity of shedding snails, and lower metacercarial infectivity in Wistar rats. Thus, the role of the donkey in the disease transmission should be considered secondary. Field survey results proved that liver fluke prevalence and intensity in donkeys are similar to those of the main reservoirs sheep and cattle in this area. Fasciolid egg shedding by a donkey individual contributes to the environment contamination at a rate similar to sheep and cattle. In this endemic area, the pronounced lower number of donkeys when compared to sheep and cattle indicates that the epidemiological reservoir role of the donkey is also secondary. However, the donkey plays an important epidemiological role in the disease spread because of its use by Aymara inhabitants for good transport, movements, and travel from one locality/zone to another, a repercussion to be considered in the present geographical spread of fascioliasis in the Altiplano due to climate change. Donkey transport of parasite and vector, including movements inside the zone under control and potential introduction from outside that zone, poses a problem for the One Health initiative.

Original languageEnglish
Article number591384
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
StatePublished - 5 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Studies of this article have been performed within the framework of the Worldwide Initiative of WHO against Human Fascioliasis (WHO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland). One Health initiative designed within the official meeting Reunión de Análisis con Expertos sobre la Situación Actual y Próximos Pasos para el Control de la Fascioliasis en Bolivia, organized by PAHO/WHO in Hotel Camino Real, Calacoto, La Paz, on 10-12 November 2014, with the participation of (i) Ministerio de Salud de Bolivia, (ii) Ministerio de Desarrollo Rural y Tierras de Bolivia, (iii) Servicio Departamental de Salud de La Paz (SEDES La Paz), (iv) representatives of the Aymara communities from the Northern Altiplano endemic area, (v) delegates from Perú, (vi) experts and advisers of the Programa Regional de Enfermedades Infecciosas Desatendidas of PAHO/WHO, and from the WHO Collaborating Centre on Fascioliasis and its Snail Vectors of Valencia, and (vii) other foreign experts. The authors acknowledge the facilities provided and the collaboration received from the following Bolivian organisms, institutions and centres, as well as their respective representatives or directors: Servicio Departamental de Salud La Paz (SEDES La Paz); Unidad de Epidemiología of the Bolivian Ministry of Health, La Paz.

Funding Information:
Studies funded by Project No. 2017/ACDE/001583 de Innovación para el Desarrollo of the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Madrid, Spain; by Project No. RLA5049 of the International Atomic Energy Agency (Animal Production and Health section, Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, IAEA Headquarters Vienna, Austria); by Health Research Project No. PI16/00520, Subprograma Estatal de Generación de Conocimiento de la Acción Estratégica en Salud (AES) y Fondos FEDER, Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación, ISCIII-MINECO, Madrid, Spain; by the Red de Investigación de Centros de Enfermedades Tropicales – RICET (Project No. RD16/0027/0023 of the PN de I+D+I, ISCIII-Subdirección General de Redes y Centros de Investigación Cooperativa RETICS), Ministry of Health and Consumption, Madrid; by Project No. 2016/099 of the PROMETEO Program, Programa of Ayudas para Grupos de Investigación de Excelencia, Generalitat Valenciana, Valencia, Spain; and by Project No. 2017/01 of the V Convocatoria de Proyectos de Cooperación al Desarrollo de la Universidad de Valencia de 2016, Valencia, Spain.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Mas-Coma, Buchon, Funatsu, Angles, Mas-Bargues, Artigas, Valero and Bargues.


  • Bolivia
  • Fasciola hepatica
  • Galba truncatula experimental transmission
  • One Health
  • donkey
  • field epidemiology
  • human fascioliasis hyperendemic
  • reservoir role


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