Cryptosporidium spp. are widespread parasitic protozoans causing enteric infections in humans and animals. The parasites cause neonatal diarrhoea in calves, leading to a high mortality rate in the first 3 weeks. Losses are significant for farmers, but the cost of cryptosporidiosis remains poorly documented. In the absence of a vaccine, only preventive measures are available to farmers to combat the infection. This study, conducted between 2018 and 2021, aimed to evaluate the economic impact of Cryptosporidium spp. on European dairy farms and monitor changes in costs after implementing disease management measures. First, a field survey was carried out and questionnaires administered to 57 farmers in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. The aim of the survey was to assess the losses associated with the occurrence of diarrhoea in calves aged between 3 days and 3 weeks. The economic impact of diarrhoea was calculated based on mortality losses, health expenditures, and additional labour costs. To refine the cost estimation specifically for Cryptosporidium spp., stool samples were collected from 10 calves per farm. The prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. was determined, and the economic impact of diarrhoea was adjusted accordingly. The assumption was made that a certain percentage of costs was attributed to cryptosporidiosis based on the prevalence. These protocols were repeated at the end of the study to observe changes in costs. In the three years, the cost of diarrhoea for the 28 farms that stayed in the panel all along the study improved from €140 in 2018 to €106 on average per diarrhoeic calf in 2021. With a stable prevalence at 40%, the cost of cryptosporidiosis per infected calf decreased from €60.62 to €45.91 in Belgium, from €43.83 to €32.14 in France, and from €58.24 to €39.48 in the Netherlands. This represented an average of €15 saved per infected calf. The methodology employed in this study did not allow us to conclude that the improvement is strictly due to the implementation of preventive measures. However, with 11 million calves raised in the Interreg 2 Seas area covered by the study, it provided valuable insights into the economic burden of Cryptosporidium spp.
|Journal||Current Research in Parasitology and Vector-Borne Diseases|
|Early online date||10 Oct 2023|
|Publication status||Published - 2023|
- Dairy calves
- Economic impact