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Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research

On-line version ISSN 2219-0635
Print version ISSN 0030-2465

Onderstepoort j. vet. res. vol.76 n.4 Pretoria  2009




Cryptosporidium infection in non-human hosts in Malawi



Z. BandaI; Rosely A.B. NicholsII; A.M. GrimasonII, III; H.V. SmithII

IDepartment of Environmental Health, University of Malawi, Polytechnic, Private Bag 303, Chichiri, Blantyre 3, Malawi
IIScottish Parasite Diagnostic Laboratory, Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow G21 3UW, Scotland, United Kingdom
IIIEnvironmental Health, Department of Civil Engineering, Glasgow G4 ONG, Scotland, United Kingdom




Of 1 346 faecal samples from the Chikwawa and Thyolo districts of Malawi, analysed for the presence of Cryptosporidium oocysts between October 2001 and May 2003, 61.3 % were from cattle (29.8 % of these were from calves < 6 months old). Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected during all three seasons studied in Chikwawa and Thyolo. In Chikwawa, 13.6 % of adult cattle and 11.7 % of calves were infected, compared to 28.9 % of adult cattle and 36.7 % of calves in Thyolo. Dependent on season, between 7.8 % and 37.7 % (Chikwawa) and 16.7 % and 39.3 % (Thyolo) of cattle samples contained oocysts. In Chikwawa, the highest percentage of infections occurred in the cool season, whereas in Thyolo, the highest percentage of infections occurred in the dry season. Faecal samples from goats [n = 225], pigs [n = 92], sheep [n = 6]), rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, doves and guinea fowls were also analysed. Up to 5.6 % of goat samples contained oocysts in Chikwawa, compared to between 16.7 % and 39.3 % in Thyolo. Again, in Chikwawa, the highest percentage of infections occurred in the cool season and the lowest in the rainy season, whereas, in Thyolo, the highest percentage of infections occurred in the dry season and the lowest in the cool season. In pigs, more infections were detected in the dry season in Chikwawa, but infections in the cool season were similar (17.7 %), whereas in Thyolo, infections occurred in all three seasons (17.9 % in the rainy season, 25 % in the cool season and 60 % in the dry season). Of ten diarrhoeic, oocyst positive cattle faecal samples collected from Chikwawa and subjected to PCR-RFLP, four oocyst positive samples (two from heifers, one from a cow and one unknown) were amplified at an 18S rRNA and Cryptosporidium oocyst wall protein (COWP) loci. RFLP of the 18S rRNA locus indicated that Cryptosporidium parvum, Cryptosporidium hominis, Cryptosporidium bovis and / or Cryptosporidium ryanae DNA, or a mixture of them was present. Cryptosporidium parvum DNA was identified in one sample that amplified at the COWP locus, indicating the presence of the major zoonotic Cryptosporidium species in Malawi.

Keywords: Cattle, Cryptosporidium parvum, livestock, Malawi, oocysts, season



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