The presence of parasites was investigated by the examination of 1944 dog faecal samples collected from urban (n=646) and rural (n=1298) areas of the province of Neuquén, Patagonia, Argentina. Parasitic agents (PA) were found in 37.86% of samples. A total of 15 different PA were detected, including Toxocara canis (16.35%), Taenia spp./Echinococcus spp. (12.65%), Trichurisvulpis (6.06%), Giardia spp. (1.29%), Toxascaris leonina (0.56%), Ancylostomacaninum (0.41%), Dipylidium caninum (0.31%), Diphyllobothrium spp. (0.10%), among others. Several of these PA are recognized as zoonotic agents. Therefore, the results of this investigation revealed that local population is exposed to a broad spectrum of zoonotic parasites by means of environmental contamination with dog faeces. Prevalence of PA was slightly higher in rural (40.06%) than in urban (33.44%) locations. Distribution of groups of PA (cestodes, nematodes, and protozoa) showed statistical differences between both habitats. Prevalence of cestodes (18.18%) and protozoa (11.86%) was significantly higher in the rural environment than in urban areas and nematodes (29.10%) were more frequent in urban locations. Infection of dogs with Linguatula serrata and Cryptosporidium sp. was demonstrated for the first time in Neuquén. Rural dogs of the study area are under hydatic disease control program, which includes treatment with praziquantel every 6 weeks; thus, the finding of high level of cestode infection in these areas is of great relevance. The epidemiology of zoonotic parasitic infections in urban and rural dogs showed different patterns and, in consequence, different control measurements should be applied in each location.
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