Cattle are major hosts of Cryptosporidium spp. Cryptosporidiosis in neonatal calves is associated with retarded growth, weight loss and calf mortality, and zoonotic infections in humans. In many areas, cow-calf glazing system is an important beef cattle rearing method with distinct advantages in terms of cost and the labor required. However, few epidemiologic studies of Cryptosporidium spp. have been conducted in this system, especially using molecular diagnostic tools. To understand the transmission of Cryptosporidium spp. in a grazing system, we followed cryptosporidiosis on a grazing farm in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, in northwest Japan for one year. Fecal samples were collected from Japanese Black and Japanese Shorthorn cattle and examined by PCR-RFLP and sequence analyses. Of 113 fecal samples collected in October 2010, 23 (20%) were positive for Cryptosporidium, including 15 samples (13%) having C. bovis, 6 (5%) having C. ryanae, and 2 (2%) having mixed infections of both species. Additionally, C. bovis or C. ryanae was detected on all other sampling dates involving smaller numbers of animals. The infection rate of C. bovis was significantly different among age groups, and calve-to-calve infection might be the major route of cryptosporidiosis transmission in beef cattle. Interestingly, one animal had C. bovis infection or re-infection for one year. Our results suggest that C. bovis and C. ryanae are distributed in Japan, but might have low level of detection in grazing beef cattle.
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