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Prevalence and risk factors for Giardia and Cryptosporidium in calves and cows
Giardia and Cryptosporidium Spp. are well-known to cause mild to severe gastrointestinal problems. Especially in calves these infections can become life-threatening. This brandnew study evaluates risk factors for shedding of Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. and the pravelnce of these organisms in cows and calves from western Canadian cow-calf herds. Very interesting - not only for Canada!


The primary objectives of this study were to describe the prevalence and risk factors for Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. infection in cows and calves during the calving season in western Canadian cow-calf herds.

Through the calving season of 2002, fresh fecal samples were collected from 560 beef cows and 605 calves in western Canada.

Feces were examined for the presence of Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. using a quantitative sucrose gradient immunoflourescent antibody test.

Samples were collected from mature cows on 59 farms and from calves on 100 farms.

Only 1.1% (5/560) of the cows were positive for Cryptosporidium spp. whereas 3.1% (19/605) of the calves were positive.

Prevalence for Giardia spp. was much higher; Giardia spp. was detected in 17.0% (95/560) of the cow and 22.6% (137/605) of calf fecal samples.

Data describing herd management practices, treatment and disease history, age, gender, breed and fecal consistency were gathered to assess potential risk factors associated with shedding.

The association between the risk of shedding and average precipitation from December to June and ecological region were also evaluated.

Risk factors for infection with Cryptosporidium spp. in either cows or calves could not be evaluated because the multilevel model would not converge due to the relatively low prevalence of the organism in this sample.

The prevalence for Giardia spp. was sufficient to explore potential risk factors in both cows and calves.
No risk factors were identified for Giardia spp. in beef cows following calving.

After the construction of a multivariable model, the only significant predictors for Giardia spp. presence in beef calves was dam age and calf age.

Calves born to 2-year-old heifers were 2.3 (95% CI, 1.09-5.06; P = 0.031) times more likely to be shedding Giardia spp. then calves born to cows that were 4-10 years of age.

Calves that were 9-18 days of age and calves that were > 18 days of age were 22.4 (95% CI, 5.88-88.18; P < 0.001) and 150 (95% CI, 39.72-603.19; P < 0.001) times more likely, respectively, to be shedding Giardia spp. than calves < or = 4 days of age.




Source: Gow S, Waldner C. (2006): An examination of the prevalence of and risk factors for shedding of Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. in cows and calves from western Canadian cow-calf herds. In: Vet Parasitol. 2006 Apr 15;137(1-2):50-61.



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