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Asymptomatic Cryptosporidium infections in ewes and lambs are a source of environmental contamination with zoonotic genotypes of Cryptosporidium parvum

Abstract : Protozoan parasites of the Cryptosporidium genus cause severe cryptosporidiosis in newborn lambs. However, asymptomatic infections also occur frequently in lambs and ewes. In sheep, the most commonly detected Cryptosporidium species are C. ubiquitum, C. xiaoi and C. parvum. Due to a lack of relevant information about such infections in France, we investigated the situation on five dairy sheep farms in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques Department in south-western France in December 2017. Individual fecal samples were collected from 79 female lambs (5-17 days old) and their mothers (72 ewes). Oocysts were screened using Heine staining before and after Bailenger concentrations. Cryptosporidium species identification and genotyping were performed using real-time PCR and gp60 gene sequencing. No cases of clinical cryptosporidiosis were observed in the 79 lambs. Microscopically, Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts were observed in only one lamb on one farm (prevalence 1.3%) and one ewe on another farm (prevalence 1.4%). By contrast, Cryptosporidium spp. DNA was detected in 17 ewes (prevalence ranging from 10.5% to 50% depending on the farm) and in 36 lambs (prevalence ranging from 0% to 77.8% depending on the farm). Only zoonotic Cryptosporidium parvum IId and IIa genotypes were identified when genotyping was possible. Cryptosporidium ubiquitum and C. xiaoi were detected on one and three farms, respectively. We conclude that healthy young lambs and their mothers during the peripartum period could be a source of environmental contamination with oocysts.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 2:35:01 PM
Last modification on : Monday, January 31, 2022 - 10:09:54 AM

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Léa Bordes, Pauline Houert, Damien Costa, Loïc Favennec, Corinne Vial-Novella, et al.. Asymptomatic Cryptosporidium infections in ewes and lambs are a source of environmental contamination with zoonotic genotypes of Cryptosporidium parvum. Parasite, EDP Sciences, 2020, 27, pp.57. ⟨10.1051/parasite/2020054⟩. ⟨hal-03097714⟩

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