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A multicentre prevalence study in Europe on Giardia duodenalis in calves, with molecular identification and risk factor analysis

Geurden, T., Vanderstichel, R., Pohle, H., Ehsan, A., von Samson-Himmelstjerna, G., Morgan, E.R., Camuset, P., Capelli, G., Vercruysse, J., Claerebout, E.
Veterinary parasitology 2012 v.190 no.3-4 pp. 383-390
Giardia lamblia, Holstein, calf housing, calves, dairy animals, disinfection, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, farms, feces, genes, genotyping, risk factors, triose-phosphate isomerase, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom
The present study aimed to obtain data on the occurrence of Giardia duodenalis in calves in four major cattle rearing countries in Europe (Germany, UK, France and Italy), along with genotyping data and risk factors associated with these infections. A total of 2072 calves were sampled on 207 farms. The majority of the animals were Holstein dairy or mixed Holstein calves (n=1565 or 75.5%), and were female (n=1640 or 79.1%). The average age was 7.8 weeks (SD=4.1; median=7; range=2–16 weeks). All fecal samples were tested using a commercially available monoclonal antibody-based ELISA. The overall apparent prevalence of G. duodenalis for the four countries was 45.4% (n=942/2072) and the overall farm prevalence was 89.9% (186/207), with differences in both animal and farm prevalence between the four countries. The prevalence was significantly higher in animals up to 8 weeks (OR=1.88; P<0.001) compared to older calves, and several management factors including contact with the Dam, Frequency of cleaning of the Maternity Pens, and Disinfection of the Calf Housing were found to be associated with infection. Positive samples were withheld for genotyping using the β-giardin and triose phosphate isomerase gene: G. duodenalis assemblage E was most prevalent, although 43% of the isolates were typed as assemblage A, with differences in between countries. Furthermore, 32% of the examined samples was found to be a mixed assemblage A and E infection, which is consistent with previous reports. The results of the present study confirm previous findings in other European countries that G. duodenalis infections are common in calves. The infection especially occurs in animals younger than 2 months, and the proportion of positive animals gradually decreased with increasing age.