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Parasite populations in the brown rat Rattus norvegicus from Doha, Qatar between years: the effect of host age, sex and density

  • M.A. Abu-Madi (a1), J.M. Behnke (a2), M. Mikhail (a3), J.W. Lewis (a4) and M.L. Al-Kaabi (a3)...


A total of 179 urban rats were sampled in the city of Doha in Qatar across the winter seasons (February–April) of 2002 and 2003. Only two parasites were identified, with overall prevalences of 35.8% and 41.3% for the cestode Hymenolepis diminuta and the flea Xenopsylla astia respectively. The prevalence of H. diminuta was markedly influenced by both year of study and host age, being higher in 2003 and amongst older rats. The abundance of infection of H. diminuta was influenced by the year of study, host age and sex. Worm burdens in adult rats were almost twice as heavy in males compared with females and adults of both sexes harboured heavier infections than juveniles. The prevalence of X. astia was influenced by both year and host age, being higher in juvenile rats in 2002 and in adults in 2003. The abundance of X. astia was significantly higher in 2003 and both male and female rats showed similar abundances, but in 2003 females were more heavily infested. Reasons for this are discussed in relation to the differing foraging strategies shown by male and female rats. The prevalence and abundance profiles for both H. diminuta and X. astia were higher overall in 2003 due to a significant increase in the rat population density, although this did not reflect in any increase in parasite species richness. Rats that were infected with H. diminuta were almost twice as likely to be infected with X. astia than those without the cestode, but when controlled for the effects of year, host age and sex, no quantitative interactions were detected between the two parasite species.


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*Address for correspondence: Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Qatar, PO Box 2713, Qatar Fax: (+974) 4880337 E-mail:


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Parasite populations in the brown rat Rattus norvegicus from Doha, Qatar between years: the effect of host age, sex and density

  • M.A. Abu-Madi (a1), J.M. Behnke (a2), M. Mikhail (a3), J.W. Lewis (a4) and M.L. Al-Kaabi (a3)...


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