Occurrence of Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia duodenalis in healthy adult domestic ruminants

Parasitol Res. 2007 Oct;101(5):1443-8. doi: 10.1007/s00436-007-0624-6. Epub 2007 Jun 15.


To determine the prevalence and intensity of infection of Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia duodenalis in healthy adult domestic ruminants, faecal samples were collected from 379 cattle of between 3 and 13 years old, 446 sheep and 116 goats selected at random from 60 dairy farms and 38 and 20 herds, respectively, in Galicia (NW Spain). Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts were detected in 32 cows (8.4%), 24 sheep (5.3%) and in nine goats (7.7%) from, respectively, 48.3% of the farms and 34.2 and 30.0% of the herds. The intensity of infection in cows ranged between 25 and 5,924 oocysts per gram of faeces (OPG), whereas in sheep and goats, the number of oocysts shed ranged from 8-515 OPG and from 17-782 OPG, respectively. Parasitization by Cryptosporidium spp. was significantly higher (P<0.05) in cows than in sheep and goats. G. duodenalis cysts were identified in 101 cows (26.6%), 86 sheep (19.2%) and 23 goats (19.8%) from, respectively, 96.6% of the farms and 92.1 and 90% of the herds. The number of cysts shed by cows ranged between 15 and 3,042 cyst per gram of faeces (CPG), whereas the intensity of infection in sheep and goats ranged from 16-3010 CPG and from 15-1845 CPG, respectively, and was significantly lower (P<0.05) than in cows and sheep. The number of Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts isolated from sheep and goats was insufficient for successful polymerase chain reaction analysis. Nevertheless, gene sequence analysis of the hsp70 and 18SrRNA genes of Cryptosporidium revealed the presence of only C. parvum in faecal samples from cows. Genotyping studies of the beta-giardin and glutamate dehydrogenase genes of G. duodenalis revealed mainly assemblage E of Giardia in cows, sheep and goat faecal samples. Assemblage B of G. duodenalis was also detected in one sheep sample. These animals should be considered as a possible source of cryptosporidiosis and giardiosis, thereby maintaining the infections on farms and in herds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / parasitology*
  • Cattle
  • Cryptosporidiosis / epidemiology
  • Cryptosporidiosis / veterinary*
  • Cryptosporidium parvum / isolation & purification
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • DNA, Protozoan / chemistry
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / chemistry
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Genotype
  • Giardia / isolation & purification
  • Giardiasis / epidemiology
  • Giardiasis / veterinary*
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Goats
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Parasite Egg Count
  • Prevalence
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • Ruminants / parasitology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sheep
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA, Protozoan
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S
  • giardin protein, Giardia lamblia
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase