Occurrence of Cryptosporidium and Giardia on beef farms and water sources within the vicinity of the farms on Prince Edward Island, Canada

Vet Parasitol. 2012 Feb 28;184(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2011.10.027. Epub 2011 Oct 25.


The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence and assemblages of Giardia and species of Cryptosporidium on beef farms in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada, including the water sources associated with the farms, and to determine risk factors for infection of cattle with these parasites. Twenty beef farms were selected based on the presence of surface water< 500 m from the barn. Prevalence was determined by direct immunofluorescence microscopy, while genotyping and species determination were performed by nested-PCR and DNA sequencing. Giardia was detected in 42% (95% CI: 38-46%) of fecal samples from 100% farms while Cryptosporidium was detected in 17% (95% CI: 14-19%) of fecal samples from 80% of farms. The most predominant Giardia assemblage isolated was the livestock specific assemblage E (89%). The zoonotic assemblages A and B were found in 4 and 7% of the Giardia isolates that were genotyped, respectively. The Giardia assemblages were detected equally between the cows and calves examined. Overall, the most common Cryptosporidium species detected in this study was Cryptosporidium andersoni (49%), predominantly found in cattle > 6 mo of age, while most Cryptosporidium bovis and Cryptosporidium pestis (previously Cryptosporidium parvum 'bovine genotype') isolates were detected in calves ≤ 6 mo of age. All Cryptosporidium ryanae isolates (four) were found in calves. Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected in 14 and 93% of surface water samples of 14 farms, respectively. Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected in three (15%) ground water samples of 20 farms. One Cryptosporidium-positive water sample, which was the only surface water sample amenable to genotyping, contained C. parvum. The farm-level risk factors investigated in this study, age of animals and location of the farm, were not associated with the risk of infection in cattle with either Cryptosporidium spp. or Giardia duodenalis. We conclude that beef cattle are a potential reservoir of Cryptosporidium spp. and G. duodenalis that could contaminate source water. There is the possibility of further transmission to humans on PEI if the source water is not properly treated prior to consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cryptosporidiosis / epidemiology
  • Cryptosporidiosis / veterinary*
  • Cryptosporidium / classification
  • Cryptosporidium / genetics
  • Cryptosporidium / physiology*
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Genotype
  • Giardia / classification
  • Giardia / genetics
  • Giardia / physiology*
  • Giardiasis / epidemiology
  • Giardiasis / veterinary*
  • Prince Edward Island / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Water / parasitology*


  • Water