Follow-up investigation into Cryptosporidium prevalence and transmission in Western European dairy farms

Sumaiya Hoque, Pedro Pinto, Cláudia A. Ribeiro, Evi Canniere, Yvonne Daandels, Martine Dellevoet, Anne Bourgeois, Ourida Hammouma, Paul Hunter, Eleni Gentekaki, Martin Kváč, Jérôme Follet, Anastasios D. Tsaousis

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Cryptosporidium parvum is an enteric parasite and a major contributor to acute enteritis in calves worldwide, causing an important economic burden for farmers. This parasite poses a major public health threat through transmission between livestock and humans. Our previous pilot study in Western Europe revealed a high prevalence of Cryptosporidium in calves of dairy farms. In the sequel study herein, 936 faecal samples were collected from the same 51 dairy farms across Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Following DNA extraction, Cryptosporidium screening was carried out using nested-PCR amplification targeting the SSU rRNA gene. All positive samples were sequenced, and phylogenetic analyses were used to identify the Cryptosporidium spp. present. The 60 kDa glycoprotein (gp60) gene was also sequenced to determine the C. parvum subtypes present. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium ranged from 23.3% to 25%, across the three countries surveyed. The parasite was found in most of the farms sampled, with 90.2% testing positive. Cryptosporidium parvum, C. bovis, C. ryanae and C. andersoni were all identified, with the former being the most predominant, representing 71.4% of all infections. Cryptosporidium parvum was associated with pre-weaned calves, while other species were associated with older animals. Subtyping of gp60 gene revealed nine subtypes, eight of which have previously been reported to cause clinical disease in humans. Similarly to the first study, vertical transmission was not a major contributor to Cryptosporidium spread. Our study highlights the need for further investigation into cryptosporidiosis transmission, and future studies will require a One Health approach to reduce the impact of this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109920
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Early online date6 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Belgium
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Dairy cows
  • Diarrhoea
  • Epidemiology
  • France
  • Prevalence
  • The Netherlands

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