Prevalence of Giardia duodenalis assemblages in weaned cattle on cow-calf operations in the United States

Vet Parasitol. 2012 Feb 10;183(3-4):231-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2011.07.042. Epub 2011 Aug 12.


To determine the prevalence of Giardia duodenalis in weaned beef calves on cow-calf operations in the United States, fecal specimens were collected from 819 calves (6-18 months of age) from 49 operations. After cleaning and concentration procedures to maximize recovery of cysts from feces, DNA was extracted from each of the 819 specimens. The presence of G. duodenalis was determined by nested PCR of a fragment of the SSU rRNA gene. All positive PCR products were subjected to sequence analysis. The overall sample level prevalence of Giardia was 33.5% with prevalence ranging from 0 to 100% among operations. The highest within herd prevalence of infected beef calves was found in one cow-calf operation from the South region (100%), followed by a cow-calf operation from the West region (90%), and three cow-calf operations from the Midwest region (87.5, 85, and 85%). Giardia was not detected in samples from 7 operations including 5 cow-calf operations from the South region, and 1 cow-calf operation each from the Midwest and West regions. Molecular analysis of the Giardia-positive samples identified assemblage E (or E-like) in 31.7% of all samples (260/819) and assemblage A in 1.2% (10/819). A mixed infection with assemblages A and E was observed in four calves from an operation in Midwest region. The potentially zoonotic assemblage A was detected in specimens from four operations in Midwest region. These findings indicate that most G. duodenalis found in weaned beef calves was assemblage E which represents no known zoonotic threat. However, the presence of assemblage A in a small number of animals poses a potential risk of infection to humans.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cattle Diseases / parasitology
  • Coinfection / epidemiology
  • Coinfection / parasitology
  • Coinfection / veterinary*
  • DNA, Protozoan / chemistry
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Female
  • Giardia lamblia / classification
  • Giardia lamblia / genetics*
  • Giardia lamblia / isolation & purification
  • Giardiasis / epidemiology
  • Giardiasis / parasitology
  • Giardiasis / veterinary*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Prevalence
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Species Specificity
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weaning


  • DNA, Protozoan

Associated data

  • GENBANK/JN375979
  • GENBANK/JN375980
  • GENBANK/JN375981