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


Periparturient cows and their calves.


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.


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 scrapings 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.


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. (Am J Vet Res 1998;59:1116-1121)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research