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Cryptosporidium parvum infection and associated risk factors in dairy calves in western France

Delafosse, A., Chartier, C., Dupuy, M.C., Dumoulin, M., Pors, I., Paraud, C.
Preventive veterinary medicine 2015 v.118 no.4 pp. 406-412
Cryptosporidium parvum, colostrum, confidence interval, dairy calves, dairy farming, dairy herds, databases, diarrhea, equations, farmers, farms, feces, fermented milk, halofuginone, microscopy, models, mortality, neonates, oocysts, questionnaires, risk factors, veterinarians, France
This study was conducted to determine the prevalence and risk factors for Cryptosporidium infection in calf neonates on dairy farms in Normandy.Fecal samples were randomly collected between July 2010 and September 2011 from 968 calves (7–21 days old) on 97 farms. Up to 10 calves were selected and sampled per farm, and feces examined for oocysts by microscopy. C. parvum oocyst shedding was scored semi-quantitatively (0–5). A questionnaire about calf-level care and management was completed, and mortality rates were obtained from the French national registration database (BDNI). Bivariable and multivariable analyses of potential risk factors for C. parvum oocyst shedding were conducted using generalized estimating equation (GEE) models (family=Binomial).Overall, 402 out of 968 calves (41.5%) were positive for oocysts, and 25.1% of animals had a shedding score >2. Seven of the 97 farms (7%) were negative for oocysts in all fecal samples. At the time of collection, 375 calves (39%) had diarrhea, and its prevalence strongly correlated with the score for C. parvum oocyst shedding (p<0.0001). The mortality rate at 90 days was significantly greater for calves with high combined scores of diarrhea and shedding. Factors associated with the shedding of C. parvum were the Normande breed (odds ratio=1.49; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.93–2.37), dispensing of colostrum using a bucket (odds ratio=1.37; 95% CI: 1.00–1.89), treatment with halofuginone (odds ratio=0.46; 95% CI: 0.19–1.15) and feeding with fermented milk (odds ratio=0.32; 95% CI: 0.17–0.63).C. parvum is widespread among calves under 21 days old in dairy herds of western France. Shedding of C. parvum is associated with a high incidence of diarrhea and increased risk of mortality in young calves. This study identified some associated calf-level factors, although further investigations are necessary to determine appropriate measures that farmers and veterinary practitioners should take to reduce the prevalence of C. parvum.