Prevalence, risk factor and diversity of Cryptosporidium in cattle in Latvia

The epidemiology of Cryptosporidium spp. in Latvia was investigated by testing fecal samples from 926 animals aged from one day to 24 years for the presence of Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts. The samples were collected from 87 cattle farms and from four slaughterhouses, and analyzed by conventional and fluorescent microscopy, followed by Cryptosporidium species and C. parvum subtype differentiation. Moreover, using a questionnaire, we surveyed factors that could be relevant as risk factors of Cryptosporidium spp. infection on the farms. Cryptosporidium spp. were shed by 33.8% of the investigated cattle and at least one shedding animal was found on 77.8% of the farms. In the present study, all four Cryptosporidium species reported to commonly infect cattle and two additional Cryptosporidium species (C. scrofarum and C. ubiquitum) were identified. In addition, mix infections of C. parvum/C. bovis, C. bovis/C. ryanae, C. parvum/C. ryanae, C. parvum/C. andersoni and C. bovis/C. andersoni were observed. C. parvum and C. bovis was mostly prevalent in young animals (0–3 months old) and in addition, diarrhea associated with C. parvum infection was observed only in very young animals. Cryptosporidium andersoni and C. ryanae in age group 0–3 months was observed in low prevalence, while a higher proportion of animals with diarrhea associated with C. andersoni infection was observed in very young animals and with C. ryanae in animals age group 4–24 months. Eight previously described C. parvum subtypes were observed. The majority of the subtypes were in the IIa subtype family, while one subtype was identified from the IId subtype family. The most common subtype was IIaA15G2R1, which was found in 34.2% of the C. parvum successfully subtyped samples. The probability of Cryptosporidium spp. associated diarrhea in cattle decreased significantly with the age of the animals and a prolonged period during which calves were fed with milk.

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