Cryptosporidium spp. is the most important parasitic diarrheal agent in the world, is among the top four causes of moderate-to-severe diarrheal disease in young children in developing nations, and is problematic as an opportunistic co-infection with HIV. In addition, Cryptosporidium is a persistent challenge for livestock production. Despite its zoonotic potential, few studies have examined the ecology and epidemiology of this pathogen in rural systems characterized by high rates of overlap among humans, domesticated animals, and wildlife. To improve our understanding of the zoonotic potential of Cryptosporidium species in the rural tropics, we screened humans, livestock, peridomestic rodents, and wildlife using PCR-RFLP and sequencing-based approaches to distinguish species of Cryptosporidium in rural southeastern Madagascar. Cryptosporidium of multiple species/genotypes were apparent in this study system. Interestingly, C. suis was the dominant species of Cryptosporidium in the region, infecting humans (n=1), cattle (n=18), pigs (n=3), and rodents (n=1). The broad species range of C. suis and the lack of common cattle Cryptosporidium species (Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium andersoni) in this system are unique. This report represents the fifth confirmed case of C. suis infection in humans, and the first case in Africa. Few rural human and livestock populations have been screened for Cryptosporidium using genus-specific genotyping methods. Consequently, C. suis may be more widespread in human and cattle populations than previously believed.
Keywords: Africa; Cryptosporidium; Diarrheal disease; Water-borne disease; Zoonosis.
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