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Cryptosporidiosis in 20 alpaca crias

Laura H. Waitt DVM, DACVIM1, Christopher K. Cebra VMD, MS, DACVIM2, Anna M. Firshman BVSc, PhD, DACVIM3, Erica C. McKenzie DVM, PhD, DACVIM4, and John W. Schlipf Jr DVM, MS, DACVIM5
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  • 1 Mount Vernon Veterinary Hospital, 14110 Bradshaw Rd, Mount Vernon, WA 98273.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • | 5 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.

Abstract

Case Description—20 alpaca crias (13 females and 7 males) were examined for diarrhea (n = 20), weight loss (15), and poor appetite (5). Fourteen crias were between 8 and 18 days of age at time of admission.

Clinical Findings—Cryptosporidiosis was diagnosed in all crias. Common biochemical abnormalities included acidemia, hyperlactemia, azotemia, and hyperglycemia and increases in aspartate transaminase and γ-glutamyltransferase activities. Serum sodium and chloride concentrations were high or low. Other potential gastrointestinal tract pathogens were identified in only 7 crias.

Treatment and Outcome—Supportive care was instituted, including IV administration of fluids with partial parenteral administration of nutrients (n = 19 crias), antimicrobials (19), supplemental orally administered nutrients (11), administration of plasma (10), and insulin treatment (9). Other palliative treatments used by attending clinicians were sucralfate, flunixin meglumine, vitamin A/D/E/B complex, antiparasitic agents, antidiarrheal agents, and azithromycin. Three crias with inadequate urine production and severe azotemia were treated with furosemide administered IV as a bolus or as a constant-rate infusion. Treatment resulted in a successful outcome in 16 of 20 crias. Weight loss and refractory azotemia were common in nonsurvivors but not in surviving crias.

Clinical Relevance—Findings suggested that Cryptosporidium spp may be a diarrheal pathogen of unweaned alpaca crias that may be more widespread than has been recognized and can become endemic on some farms. Metabolic derangements were unpredictable and should be determined by biochemical analysis before fluid and electrolyte replacement is initiated. Cryptosporidiosis has zoonotic potential, and the infection can be self-limiting in alpacas receiving supportive treatment.

Abstract

Case Description—20 alpaca crias (13 females and 7 males) were examined for diarrhea (n = 20), weight loss (15), and poor appetite (5). Fourteen crias were between 8 and 18 days of age at time of admission.

Clinical Findings—Cryptosporidiosis was diagnosed in all crias. Common biochemical abnormalities included acidemia, hyperlactemia, azotemia, and hyperglycemia and increases in aspartate transaminase and γ-glutamyltransferase activities. Serum sodium and chloride concentrations were high or low. Other potential gastrointestinal tract pathogens were identified in only 7 crias.

Treatment and Outcome—Supportive care was instituted, including IV administration of fluids with partial parenteral administration of nutrients (n = 19 crias), antimicrobials (19), supplemental orally administered nutrients (11), administration of plasma (10), and insulin treatment (9). Other palliative treatments used by attending clinicians were sucralfate, flunixin meglumine, vitamin A/D/E/B complex, antiparasitic agents, antidiarrheal agents, and azithromycin. Three crias with inadequate urine production and severe azotemia were treated with furosemide administered IV as a bolus or as a constant-rate infusion. Treatment resulted in a successful outcome in 16 of 20 crias. Weight loss and refractory azotemia were common in nonsurvivors but not in surviving crias.

Clinical Relevance—Findings suggested that Cryptosporidium spp may be a diarrheal pathogen of unweaned alpaca crias that may be more widespread than has been recognized and can become endemic on some farms. Metabolic derangements were unpredictable and should be determined by biochemical analysis before fluid and electrolyte replacement is initiated. Cryptosporidiosis has zoonotic potential, and the infection can be self-limiting in alpacas receiving supportive treatment.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Waitt.