Prevalence and Genotypes of Giardia Duodenalis in 1-2 Year Old Dairy Cattle

Vet Parasitol. 2006 Sep 10;140(3-4):217-22. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2006.03.025. Epub 2006 May 2.


To determine the prevalence of Giardia genotypes in 12-24 month old dairy heifers, fecal specimens were collected from two farms each in Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. Specimens, cleaned of fecal debris and concentrated using CsCl density gradient centrifugation, were subjected to PCR and DNA sequence analysis. Prevalence of Giardia infection, ranged from 11% to 75% on 14 farms with an average prevalence of 36% (204 positive cattle out of 571 examined). DNA sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene revealed 91% of the 204 Giardia isolates were Assemblage E, and 9% were Assemblage A. The prevalence of these genotypes varied greatly from farm to farm, with four farms having exclusively Assemblage E Giardia. Overall, Assemblage E was present in 33% of all animals tested and Assemblage A was present in 3% of the animals. Thus, while many of the heifers were infected with a genotype that is not known to be infectious for humans, 1-2 year old heifers on 10 of 14 farms did harbor zoonotic Assemblage A Giardia. Therefore, heifers cannot be overlooked as a potential source of human infectious cysts in the environment, with some farms representing a much higher risk than others.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Base Sequence
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cattle Diseases / parasitology
  • DNA, Protozoan / chemistry
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Giardia / genetics*
  • Giardia / isolation & purification*
  • Giardiasis / epidemiology
  • Giardiasis / parasitology
  • Giardiasis / veterinary*
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Prevalence
  • Southeastern United States / epidemiology


  • DNA, Protozoan