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Vet Parasitol. 2006 Jan 30;135(2):105-12. Epub 2005 Sep 12.

Prevalence of species and genotypes of Cryptosporidium found in 1-2-year-old dairy cattle in the eastern United States.

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Environmental Microbial Safety Laboratory, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Building 173, BARC-East, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA.


The prevalence of Cryptosporidium species in 1-2-year-old heifers was determined for 571 animals on 14 dairy farms in seven states on the East Coast of the United States. A fecal specimen collected directly from each heifer was processed to concentrate oocysts that were then examined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). For every PCR-positive specimen the 18S rRNA gene of Cryptosporidium was sequenced. Cryptosporidium was identified by PCR from heifers on 13 of 14 farms. On all except four farms groups of heifers were housed in a barn or in large covered pens. Others were pastured. From many of the same farms an earlier study reported that 41% of 393 pre-weaned calves and 26.2% of 447 post-weaned calves were infected. In the present study, 11.9% of 571 heifers were infected with Cryptosporidium, 0.7% with Cryptosporidium parvum, the zoonotic species. Of 68 PCR-positive specimens characterized by gene sequencing 1, 4, 10, 24, and 29 calves were infected with Cryptosporidium suis, Cryptosporidium parvum, Cryptosporidium deer-like genotype, Cryptosporidium bovis, and Cryptosporidium andersoni, respectively. These findings demonstrate a lower prevalence of infection in 1-2-year-old dairy cattle than in younger cattle as well as a change in the diversity of species present. Consequently, the risk of humans acquiring infection with C. parvum from exposure to feces from yearling and older cattle appears much lower than from exposure to pre-weaned calves.

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