Special Issue "Zoonoses Associated with Animal Assisted Interventions: An Interdisciplinary Perspective"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Antonio Santaniello
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production, University of Naples Federico II, 80138 Naples, Italy
Interests: animal assisted interventions; zoonoses; one health; avian pathology; zoonotic risks; songbirds; co-therapeutic animals
Dr. Francesco Oriente
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Translational Medical Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, 80138 Naples, Italy
Interests: metabolism; human health; basic science; environmental pollutants; endocrine disruptor chemicals
Dr. Alex Grinberg
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, 4410 Palmerston North, New Zealand
Interests: molecular and genomic epidemiology of infectious agents; cryptosporidium and cryptosporidiosis; staphylococcus aureus and related diseases, antimicrobial-resistant bacteria

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are glad to announce the Special Issue “Zoonoses Associated with Animal Assisted Interventions: An Interdisciplinary Perspective”, to be published on IJERPH. Recently, we have witnessed a rapid accumulation of the scientific knowledge in many areas of work within the Animal Assisted Interventions (AAIs). However, the zoonotic risks resulting from the close patient-animal interactions that form the base of such interventions, are still poorly explored. This special issue will address this gap.

Papers highlighting any aspect of infectious (bacterial, viral, or parasitic) and behavioral zoonoses in this field are welcome and will be taken into consideration for the publication. We encourage authors of research or review articles to submit their material to this Special Issue. Papers will be peer-reviewed according to the journal’s criteria and accepted papers will be published in IJERPH as soon as practicable. All the papers will be also listed together as a Special Issue.

Dr. Antonio Santaniello
Dr. Francesco Oriente
Dr. Alex Grinberg
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Animal Assisted Interventions
  • zoonoses
  • one health
  • Human-Animal Interactions
  • pet therapy
  • living organisms and environmental risks

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Presence of Campylobacterjejuni and C. coli in Dogs under Training for Animal-Assisted Therapies
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(7), 3717; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18073717 - 02 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 772
Abstract
This study was conducted to evaluate the presence of Campylobacter (C.) jejuni and C. coli in dogs at five dog training centers in Southern Italy. A total of 550 animals were sampled by collecting rectal swabs. The samples were processed to detect thermotolerant [...] Read more.
This study was conducted to evaluate the presence of Campylobacter (C.) jejuni and C. coli in dogs at five dog training centers in Southern Italy. A total of 550 animals were sampled by collecting rectal swabs. The samples were processed to detect thermotolerant Campylobacter spp. by culture and molecular methods. Campylobacter spp. were isolated from 135/550 (24.5–95% confidence interval) dogs. A total of 84 C. jejuni (62.2%) and 51 C. coli (37.8%) isolates were identified using conventional PCR. The dog data (age, sex, breed, and eating habits) were examined by two statistical analyses using the C. jejuni and C. coli status (positive or negative) as dependent variables. Dogs fed home-cooked food showed a higher risk of being positive for C. jejuni than dogs fed dry or canned meat for dogs (50.0%; p < 0.01). Moreover, purebred dogs had a significantly higher risk than crossbred dogs for C. coli positivity (16.4%; p < 0.01). This is the first study on the prevalence of C. jejuni and C. coli in dogs frequenting dog training centers for animal-assisted therapies (AATs). Our findings emphasize the potential zoonotic risk for patients and users involved in AATs settings and highlight the need to carry out ad hoc health checks and to pay attention to the choice of the dog, as well as eating habits, in order to minimize the risk of infection. Full article
Article
A Pilot Study on the Contamination of Assistance Dogs’ Paws and Their Users’ Shoe Soles in Relation to Admittance to Hospitals and (In)Visible Disability
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 513; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18020513 - 10 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 5075
Abstract
(1) Background: People with disabilities may benefit from an assistance dog (AD). Despite regulations that prohibit the denial of ADs to public places, this still occurs on a regular basis. The main argument for denial of access is that dogs compromise hygiene [...] Read more.
(1) Background: People with disabilities may benefit from an assistance dog (AD). Despite regulations that prohibit the denial of ADs to public places, this still occurs on a regular basis. The main argument for denial of access is that dogs compromise hygiene with their presence, which could cause a health hazard. Meanwhile, people are allowed to walk into and out of public places freely. (2) Objective: As a pilot study, to investigate the number of Enterobacteriaceae and the presence of Clostridium difficile bacteria on the paws of ADs and pet dogs (PDs) as well as the shoe soles of their users and owners. With the results, an assessment can be made as to whether measures are required to reduce environmental contamination (e.g., in hospitals). (3) Methods: In total, 25 ADs, 25 PDs, and their 50 users/owners participated in the study. Each participant walked their dog for 15–30 min prior to the sampling of the front paws. Each PD owner or AD user filled out a general questionnaire about the care of their dogs, and AD users were asked to fill out an additional questionnaire on their experiences regarding the admittance of their ADs to public places (in particular, hospitals). Dutch hospitals were questioned on their protocols regarding the admittance of ADs and their visitor numbers, including the percentage of AD users, to put these numbers into perspective. (4) Results: Dog paws were more often negative for Enterobacteriaceae compared to shoe soles (72% and 42%, respectively) and also had significantly lower bacterial counts (mean of 3.54log10 and 5.03log10 colony-forming units (CFUs), respectively; p < 0.05). This was most distinct in the comparison between PDs and their owners (3.75log10 and 5.25log10 CFUs; p < 0.05); the numbers were similar between ADs and their users (3.09log10 and 4.58log10 CFUs; p = 0.2). C. difficile was found on one (4%) AD user’s shoe soles. Moreover, 81% of AD users had been denied access with their current AD once or several times, the main reason being hygiene. The results of the visibly and invisibly disabled were significantly different. The number of AD users as opposed to the total number of hospital visitors was 0.03% in one hospital and is estimated to be 0.02% in the Netherlands. (5) Conclusions: The general hygiene of dogs’ paws is far better than that of shoe soles, mostly demonstrated by the better general hygiene of PD paws compared with their owners’ shoe soles; ADs and their users had comparable levels of general hygiene. In addition, the number of AD users amongst the total number of hospital visitors in the Netherlands is very limited. Thus, hygiene measures to reduce any contamination due to dog paws do not seem necessary. Full article
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Article
Surveillance of Zoonotic Parasites in Animals Involved in Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAIs)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 7914; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17217914 - 28 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 772
Abstract
Animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) are based on the establishment of a therapeutic relationship between animals and beneficiaries that is certain to provide positive effects, while currently, it reads as if AAIs aim at exposing stakeholders to potential risk of infection. The surveillance of zoonotic [...] Read more.
Animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) are based on the establishment of a therapeutic relationship between animals and beneficiaries that is certain to provide positive effects, while currently, it reads as if AAIs aim at exposing stakeholders to potential risk of infection. The surveillance of zoonotic pathogens is necessary for guaranteeing common health. This study investigated the presence of potentially zoonotic parasites, including dermatophytes, in animals involved in AAIs. Between 2015 and 2017, 190 animals (equids, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents, and goats) were investigated. Anamnestic and management data were recorded. Individual faecal samples were analysed using a copromicroscopic procedure. Fur and skin were examined for ectoparasites during clinical examinations, and samples for mycological investigation were collected by brushing. Parasites were described in 60 (31.6%) investigated animals. Thirteen out of the 60 (21.7%) animals harboured potentially zoonotic parasites, mainly recovered in dogs (Ancylostomatidae, Eucoleus aerophilus, Toxocara canis, and Giardia duodenalis) and a cat (G. duodenalis). Nannizzia gypsea and Paraphyton mirabile, potential agents of cutaneous mycosis, were isolated in a dog and a horse, respectively. No ectoparasites were found. AAIs might represent a source of infections either directly or via environmental contamination. Thus, active surveillance is necessary and animal screenings should be planned and scheduled according to the risk of exposure. Full article
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Article
Occurrence of Pasteurella multocida in Dogs Being Trained for Animal-Assisted Therapy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(17), 6385; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17176385 - 02 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 807
Abstract
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a non-pharmacological therapy aimed at people with physical and/or mental disabilities. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out interventions that guarantee its benefits for patients while also avoiding the risk of zoonoses due to contact with the animals or [...] Read more.
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a non-pharmacological therapy aimed at people with physical and/or mental disabilities. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out interventions that guarantee its benefits for patients while also avoiding the risk of zoonoses due to contact with the animals or their mucous membranes. The present study aimed to detect the occurrence of Pasteurella multocida in the oral cavity of dogs attending a “dog educational centre” and training for AAT interventions. In addition, some of the potential predictable factors of infection (i.e., age, sex, breed, and living conditions) were analyzed. In total, 25/200 dogs examined (12.5%; 95% confidence interval = 8.4–18.1%) were positive for P. multocida, as confirmed by PCR. Sex, breed, and living conditions were risk factors associated with P. multocida as revealed by the logistic regression analysis. Specifically, cross-bred female dogs living prevalently outdoors were significantly associated with the presence of P. multocida (p < 0.05). This study represents the first epidemiological survey of the prevalence of P. multocida in the oral cavity of dogs involved subsequently in AAT interventions, highlighting the potential risk of P. multocida infection in patients, often belonging to risk categories (e.g., children, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals). Therefore, healthcare guidelines could be suggested to integrate the current literature related to the health check of dogs involved in AAT. In this way, it could be ensured that, even with bodily contact during AAT, the risk of pathogen transmission by the co-therapist dog can be avoided. Full article

Review

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Review
Zoonotic Risk of Encephalitozoon cuniculi in Animal-Assisted Interventions: Laboratory Strategies for the Diagnosis of Infections in Humans and Animals
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9333; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18179333 - 03 Sep 2021
Viewed by 402
Abstract
The involvement of animals for therapeutic purposes has very ancient roots. To date, it is clear that animal-assisted interventions (AAIs), in addition to ensuring the replacement of missing or deficient affects, improves psychophysiological parameters connected to human health. However, AAI could potentially present [...] Read more.
The involvement of animals for therapeutic purposes has very ancient roots. To date, it is clear that animal-assisted interventions (AAIs), in addition to ensuring the replacement of missing or deficient affects, improves psychophysiological parameters connected to human health. However, AAI could potentially present risks related to the transmission of infectious agents from animals to humans. Among these microorganisms, E. cuniculi is a microspore which induces pathological effects (fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, breathlessness, respiratory symptoms, and weakness) in both humans and animals. Consequently, an accurate and fast diagnosis of E. cuniculi infection, as well as the identification of new diagnostic approaches, is of fundamental importance. This literature review was carried out to provide an extensive and comprehensive analysis of the most recent diagnostic techniques to prevent and care for E. cuniculi-associated risks in the AAI field. Full article
Review
Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Occurrence of ESKAPE Bacteria Group in Dogs, and the Related Zoonotic Risk in Animal-Assisted Therapy, and in Animal-Assisted Activity in the Health Context
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3278; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17093278 - 08 May 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1474
Abstract
Animal-assisted interventions are widely implemented in different contexts worldwide. Particularly, animal-assisted therapies and animal-assisted activities are often implemented in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and other health facilities. These interventions bring several benefits to patients but can also expose them to the risk of infection [...] Read more.
Animal-assisted interventions are widely implemented in different contexts worldwide. Particularly, animal-assisted therapies and animal-assisted activities are often implemented in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and other health facilities. These interventions bring several benefits to patients but can also expose them to the risk of infection with potentially zoonotic agents. The dog is the main animal species involved used in these interventions. Therefore, we aimed at collecting data regarding the occurrence of the pathogens ESKAPE (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter spp.) in dogs, in order to draft guidelines concerning the possible monitoring of dogs involved in animal-assisted therapies and animal-assisted activities in healthcare facilities. We performed a literature search using the PRISMA guidelines to examine three databases: PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus. Out of 2604 records found, 52 papers were identified as eligible for inclusion in the review/meta-analysis. Sixteen papers reported data on E. faecium; 16 on S. aureus; nine on K. pneumoniae; four on A. baumannii; eight on P. aeruginosa; and six on Enterobacter spp. This work will contribute to increased awareness to the potential zoonotic risks posed by the involvement of dogs in animal-assisted therapies, and animal-assisted activities in healthcare facilities. Full article
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