Evaluation of periparturient dairy cows and contact surfaces as a reservoir of Cryptosporidium parvum for calfhood infection

Am J Vet Res. 1998 Sep;59(9):1116-21.


Objective: To determine whether periparturient cows or contact surfaces to which newborn calves are exposed are reservoirs of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts.

Animals: Periparturient cows and their calves.

Procedure: Using direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) and acid-fast (AF) assays, fecal samples taken before and after calving from periparturient cows were tested for C parvum oocysts. Fecal samples from calves were collected every other day from age 7 to 21 days and were tested by use of the AF assay. Topsoil from close-up and maternity pens and scrapings from wooden walls and floors of calf hutches were tested for C parvum oocysts by use of DFA assay.

Results: None of the 384 fecal samples obtained 1 to 21 days before or after calving or on the day of calving from 154 periparturient cows contained detectable C parvum oocysts. Despite this lack of detectable periparturient shedding, the period prevalence of calfhood infection was 92% (123/134) from age 7 to 21 days. Soil samples from the close-up and maternity pens where newborn calves spend the first 12 hours of life also were negative for C parvum oocysts. Wood scrap ings from the outer 2 mm of the walls and floors of empty and cleaned calf hutches that were ready to receive calves were C parvum oocyst-positive.

Conclusions: Conditional on sensitivity of DFA, periparturient cows did not appear to shed detectable C parvum oocysts. In contrast, the floors and walls of wooden calf hutches contained detectable C parvum oocysts on the surface.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / parasitology*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cattle Diseases / parasitology*
  • Cryptosporidiosis / epidemiology
  • Cryptosporidiosis / parasitology
  • Cryptosporidiosis / veterinary*
  • Cryptosporidium parvum*
  • Disease Reservoirs / veterinary*
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Direct / veterinary
  • Parasite Egg Count / veterinary
  • Prevalence
  • Surface Properties