Rodents as natural hosts of zoonotic Schistosoma species and hybrids: an epidemiological and evolutionary perspective from West Africa
The complex multi-host disease dynamics of schistosomiasis and Schistosoma spp., including the emergence of zoonotic parasite hybrids, remain largely unexplored in West Africa. We elucidated the role of wild small mammals as reservoir for zoonotic Schistosoma species and hybrids in endemic areas of Senegal. We identified Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma bovis, and a Schistosoma haematobium/S. bovis hybrid, with local prevalence in wild rodents ranging from 1.9% to 28.6%. Our findings indicate that rodents may be an important local reservoir for zoonotic schistosomiasis in endemic areas of West Africa, amplifying transmission to humans and acting as natural definitive hosts of schistosome hybrids.