Duration of naturally acquired giardiosis and cryptosporidiosis in dairy calves and their association with diarrhea

Ryan M. O'Handley From the Departments of Gastrointestinal Sciences (O'Handley, Olson) and Biological Sciences (Olson, Morck), School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1 (Cockwill, McAllister); and Hoechst Roussel Vet, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5B4 (Jelinski).

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Carol Cockwill From the Departments of Gastrointestinal Sciences (O'Handley, Olson) and Biological Sciences (Olson, Morck), School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1 (Cockwill, McAllister); and Hoechst Roussel Vet, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5B4 (Jelinski).

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Tim A. McAllister From the Departments of Gastrointestinal Sciences (O'Handley, Olson) and Biological Sciences (Olson, Morck), School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1 (Cockwill, McAllister); and Hoechst Roussel Vet, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5B4 (Jelinski).

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Murray Jelinski From the Departments of Gastrointestinal Sciences (O'Handley, Olson) and Biological Sciences (Olson, Morck), School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1 (Cockwill, McAllister); and Hoechst Roussel Vet, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5B4 (Jelinski).

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Douglas W. Morck From the Departments of Gastrointestinal Sciences (O'Handley, Olson) and Biological Sciences (Olson, Morck), School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1 (Cockwill, McAllister); and Hoechst Roussel Vet, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5B4 (Jelinski).

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Merle E. Olson From the Departments of Gastrointestinal Sciences (O'Handley, Olson) and Biological Sciences (Olson, Morck), School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1 (Cockwill, McAllister); and Hoechst Roussel Vet, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5B4 (Jelinski).

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Objective

To determine duration of infection and association of infection with diarrhea for dairy calves with naturally acquired cryptosporidiosis and giardiosis.

Design

Cohort study.

Animals

20 Holstein calves on a single dairy farm.

Procedure

Fecal samples were collected 3 times/wk for the first 45 days after birth, then weekly until calves were 120 days old and examined for Giardia duodenalis cysts and Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts. Calves were monitored for diarrhea during the first 45 days after birth; during each episode of diarrhea, fecal samples were examined for parasitic, bacterial, and viral pathogens.

Results

All 20 calves shed Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts at some time during the study. Mean ages at which Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts were first detected were 31.5 and 16.3 days, respectively. Mean number of Giardia cysts in feces remained high throughout the study, whereas Cryptosporidium oocysts decreased to low or undetectable numbers 2 weeks after infection. Eighteen calves had a total of 38 episodes of diarrhea during the first 45 days after birth. Giardia duodenalis was the only pathogen identified during 6 (16%) episodes, C parvum was the only pathogen identified during 9 (24%) episodes, and G duodenalis and C parvum were identified together during 10 (26%) episodes.

Conclusions

Prevalences of giardiosis and cryptosporidiosis were high in these calves, and both parasites were associated with development of diarrhea. Cryptosporidium parvum was an important pathogen when calves were < 1 month old, but G duodenalis was more important when calves were older. Calves cleared C parvum infections within 2 weeks; however, G duodenalis infections became chronic in these calves. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1999;214:391–396)

Objective

To determine duration of infection and association of infection with diarrhea for dairy calves with naturally acquired cryptosporidiosis and giardiosis.

Design

Cohort study.

Animals

20 Holstein calves on a single dairy farm.

Procedure

Fecal samples were collected 3 times/wk for the first 45 days after birth, then weekly until calves were 120 days old and examined for Giardia duodenalis cysts and Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts. Calves were monitored for diarrhea during the first 45 days after birth; during each episode of diarrhea, fecal samples were examined for parasitic, bacterial, and viral pathogens.

Results

All 20 calves shed Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts at some time during the study. Mean ages at which Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts were first detected were 31.5 and 16.3 days, respectively. Mean number of Giardia cysts in feces remained high throughout the study, whereas Cryptosporidium oocysts decreased to low or undetectable numbers 2 weeks after infection. Eighteen calves had a total of 38 episodes of diarrhea during the first 45 days after birth. Giardia duodenalis was the only pathogen identified during 6 (16%) episodes, C parvum was the only pathogen identified during 9 (24%) episodes, and G duodenalis and C parvum were identified together during 10 (26%) episodes.

Conclusions

Prevalences of giardiosis and cryptosporidiosis were high in these calves, and both parasites were associated with development of diarrhea. Cryptosporidium parvum was an important pathogen when calves were < 1 month old, but G duodenalis was more important when calves were older. Calves cleared C parvum infections within 2 weeks; however, G duodenalis infections became chronic in these calves. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1999;214:391–396)

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