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Int J Parasitol. 1999 Nov;29(11):1733-51.

Variation in Cryptosporidium: towards a taxonomic revision of the genus.

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World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for the Molecular Epidemiology of Parasitic Infections, and State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre, Murdoch University, Australia.


Cryptosporidium is an important cause of enteric disease in humans and other animals. Limitations associated with conventional diagnostic methods for cryptosporidiosis based on morphological features, coupled with the difficulty of characterising parasites isolated in the laboratory, have restricted our ability to clearly identify species. The application of sensitive molecular approaches has obviated the necessity for laboratory amplification. Such studies have found considerable evidence of genetic heterogeneity among isolates of Cryptosporidium from different species of vertebrate, and there is now mounting evidence suggesting that a series of host-adapted genotypes/strains/species of the parasite exist. In this article, studies on the molecular characterisation of Cryptosporidium during the last 5 years are reviewed and put into perspective with the past and present taxonomy of the genus. The predictive value of achieving a sound taxonomy for the genus Cryptosporidium with respect to understanding its epidemiology and transmission and controlling outbreaks of the disease is also discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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