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Feral pigs as source of protozoal contamination for surface water
A very informative study from California - Giardia and Cryptosporidium oocysts are a common cause of gastrointestinal problems in various mammalian species including humans. Not only pet and farm animals, also feral pigs are important sources of these parasites!

Populations of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) may serve as an environmental reservoir of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts and Giardia sp. cysts for source water.

We conducted a cross-sectional study to determine the prevalence of and associated demographic and environmental risk factors for the shedding of C. parvum oocysts and Giardia sp. cysts.

Feral pigs were either live-trapped or dispatched from 10 populations located along the coastal mountains of western California, and fecal samples were obtained for immunofluorescence detection of C. parvum oocysts and Giardia sp. cysts.

We found that 12 (5.4%) and 17 (7.6%) of 221 feral pigs were shedding C. parvum oocysts and Giardia sp. cysts, respectively.

The pig`s sex and body condition and the presence of cattle were not associated with the probability of the shedding of C. parvum oocysts.

However, younger pigs (< or = 8 months) and pigs from high-density populations (> 2.0 feral pigs/km2) were significantly more likely to shed oocysts compared to older pigs (> 8 months) and pigs from low-density populations (< or = 1.9 feral pigs/km2).

In contrast, none of these demographic and environmental variables were associated with the probability of the shedding of Giardia sp. cysts among feral pigs.

These results suggest that given the propensity for feral pigs to focus their activity in riparian areas, feral pigs may serve as a source of protozoal contamination for surface water.



Source: Atwill ER, Sweitzer RA, Pereira MG, Gardner IA, Van Vuren D, Boyce WM. (1997): Prevalence of and associated risk factors for shedding Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts and Giardia cysts within feral pig populations in California. In: Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997 Oct;63(10):3946-9.


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