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An outbreak of cryptosporidiosis among alpaca crias and their human caregivers

Simon R. StarkeyDepartment of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

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Amy L. JohnsonDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

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Peter E. ZieglerDepartment of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

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Hussni O. MohammedDepartment of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

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Abstract

Case Description—6 alpaca crias from a single farm were examined because of diarrhea (n = 4) or decreased fecal production (n = 2).

Clinical FindingsCryptosporidium parvum was identified by means of fecal flotation in samples from 5 of the 6 crias, and a diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis was made. In the remaining cria, a presumptive diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis was made. Three people involved in caring for the crias from this farm were subsequently confirmed to have cryptosporidiosis, and 3 other people were suspected to have cryptosporidiosis. Sequence analysis of the ssu rDNA gene loci confirmed C parvum as the causative agent in 4 of the 6 crias. Subsequent evaluation of the farm revealed 2 additional crias confirmed to have cryptosporidiosis. Stocking densities on the farm were high, with approximately 20 adults/acre in some pastures.

Treatment and Outcome—All 6 hospitalized crias were given supportive treatment consisting of antimicrobials, gastroprotectants, and fluids. All but 1 survived. Farm owners were advised to decrease stocking density on the farm.

Clinical Relevance—Findings suggested that zoonotic transmission of C parvum from alpacas to humans can occur.

Abstract

Case Description—6 alpaca crias from a single farm were examined because of diarrhea (n = 4) or decreased fecal production (n = 2).

Clinical FindingsCryptosporidium parvum was identified by means of fecal flotation in samples from 5 of the 6 crias, and a diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis was made. In the remaining cria, a presumptive diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis was made. Three people involved in caring for the crias from this farm were subsequently confirmed to have cryptosporidiosis, and 3 other people were suspected to have cryptosporidiosis. Sequence analysis of the ssu rDNA gene loci confirmed C parvum as the causative agent in 4 of the 6 crias. Subsequent evaluation of the farm revealed 2 additional crias confirmed to have cryptosporidiosis. Stocking densities on the farm were high, with approximately 20 adults/acre in some pastures.

Treatment and Outcome—All 6 hospitalized crias were given supportive treatment consisting of antimicrobials, gastroprotectants, and fluids. All but 1 survived. Farm owners were advised to decrease stocking density on the farm.

Clinical Relevance—Findings suggested that zoonotic transmission of C parvum from alpacas to humans can occur.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Starkey.