Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. in a veterinary college bovine teaching herd

Fabienne D Uehlinger, Herman W Barkema, Brent R Dixon, Tatjana Coklin, Ryan M O'Handley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


In a preliminary study, we commonly identified Giardia duodenalis in adult dairy cattle from a veterinary college teaching herd. Therefore, the present study was carried out in order to better understand the potential of adult cattle to act as a source for G. duodenalis infections for students and staff at the veterinary college. Fecal samples were collected bi-weekly from this herd of adult cattle (n=30) over an 8-month period to determine the prevalence of G. duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. within the herd. Nested PCR followed by DNA sequencing was then performed on a subset of positive samples in order to better understand the zoonotic potential of these infections. Every cow was sampled between 11 and 18 times, depending on the date the animal joined the teaching herd. In total, 507 fecal samples were collected from 30 different cows and examined for cysts and oocysts using epifluorescence microscopy. G. duodenalis prevalence during the course of the study ranged from 37% (11/30) to 64% (18/28), with a mean of 49%. Cumulative G. duodenalis prevalence was 73% (22/30). Zoonotic G. duodenalis assemblage A genotype was identified in 43% (6/14) of the G. duodenalis-positive samples on which PCR and genetic sequencing were successfully performed. G. duodenalis assemblage E was identified in 57% (8/14) of these samples. Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts were not detected in the feces of any cows during the study period. The presence of the zoonotic G. duodenalis assemblage A in 43% of the sequenced samples indicates that there is a potential risk of infection for students and staff at this research and teaching facility, although the roles of cows as sources of giardiasis in humans remain uncertain. Furthermore, due to the large amount of feces they produce, adult cattle may serve as important sources for G. duodenalis infections in young cattle, or other animals in the facility, despite relatively low numbers of cysts excreted per gram of feces. In contrast, the results of this study indicate that this herd posed a negligible risk of transmitting Cryptosporidium parvum infections to humans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-7
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2006


  • Animals
  • Giardiasis
  • Cattle Diseases
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Zoonoses
  • Cattle
  • Cryptosporidiosis
  • Giardia
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Schools, Veterinary
  • Feces
  • Time Factors
  • Female
  • Prevalence


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