To provide up-to-date information on the occurrence of Cryptosporidium in pre-weaned calves from Sardinia (Italy), the species implicated and their zoonotic potential, 147 faecal samples from 22 cattle herds were microscopically examined for Cryptosporidium oocysts; positive isolates were molecularly characterised. A questionnaire was developed to identify risk factors for Cryptosporidium infection. Overall, the percentage of positive calves and farms was 38.8 and 68.2%, respectively. The SSU rRNA-based PCR identified two Cryptosporidium species, Cryptosporidium parvum (95.8%) and C. bovis (4.2%). Sequence analyses of the glycoprotein (gp60) gene revealed that all C. parvum isolates belonged to the subtype family IIa (IIaA15G2R1 and IIaA16G3R1), with the exception of three isolates that belonged to the subtype family IId (IIdA20G1b and IIdA20). Mixed logistic regression results indicated that calves aged 15–21 days were more likely to be Cryptosporidium-positive. The risk of being positive was also significantly higher in herds from Central Sardinia and in farms using non-slatted flooring. In addition, the application of disinfectants and milk replacers was significantly associated with higher Cryptosporidium prevalence. In contrast, the risk of being positive was significantly reduced in halofuginone-treated calves. Our results reveal that a significant percentage of suckling calves are carriers of zoonotic subtypes of C. parvum. Thus, both healthy and diarrhoeic calves younger than 1 month may represent a risk for the transmission of cryptosporidiosis in humans and animals.
Molecular characterisation and risk factor analysis of Cryptosporidium spp. in calves from Italy / Díaz, P.; Varcasia, A.; Pipia, A. P.; Tamponi, C.; Sanna, G.; Prieto, A.; Ruiu, A.; Spissu, P.; Díez-Baños, P.; Morrondo, P.; Scala, A.. - In: PARASITOLOGY RESEARCH. - ISSN 0932-0113. - (2018), pp. 1-10. [10.1007/s00436-018-6000-x]