Cryptosporidium organisms are apicomplexan (protozoan) parasites that infect mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, causing enterocolitis and diarrhea.1 Several clinical reports2–5 have identified Cryptosporidium spp as etiologic agents of diarrhea in alpacas. However, few data exist on the prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp in apparently healthy domesticated South American camelids (llamas and alpacas). Examination of fecal samples from 354 llamas at 33 locations in California,6 by means of immunofluorescent microscopy, revealed no shedding of Cryptosporidium oocysts. In a similar study,7 Cryptosporidium oocysts were not detected in fecal samples from 61 alpacas (age, 10 weeks to 10 years) on 2 farms in Maryland. During an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in some crias from 2 alpaca farms in the United Kingdom, examination of fecal samples via a fluorescent antibody test did reveal Cryptosporidium oocysts in 4 crias with normally formed feces.3
The purpose of the study reported here was to determine the apparent prevalence of shedding of Cryptosporidium spp in 110 healthy alpaca crias and their dams (total, 220 animals) on 14 farms in New York and 1 farm in Pennsylvania. Fecal samples from all 220 healthy alpacas (110 dams and their crias) were systematically collected and evaluated for Cryptosporidium oocysts. None of the tested animals had clinical signs of diarrhea that would have otherwise prompted fecal examination.
MeriFluor Cryptosporidium/Giardia direct immunofluorescent detection procedure, Meridian Bioscience Inc, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Statistix, version 9.0, Analytical Software, Tallahassee, Fla.
Xiao L, CDC, Atlanta, Ga: Personal communication, 2010.
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