Study finds Cryptosporidium spp. widespread across dairy farms in Western Europe

Collaborative research led by the University of Kent has found the prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. across dairy cattle farms in Western Europe to be greater than previously thought. The study, published in Microorganisms, suggests cattle as a possible carrier of zoonotic Cryptosporidium parvum subtypes, which could pose a threat to human health.

Samples were collected from 57 farms in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. The prevalence of Cryptosporidium was found to be 25.7%, 24.9% and 20.8% in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands respectively. Subtyping demonstrated a significant number of the C. parvum positives belonged to the IIa allelic family, which has been also identified in humans.

The researchers tested young calves and their mothers. Only two pairs of adults and calves were found to share the same C. parvum subtype, suggesting that there is no clear link for maternal transmission of the parasite. It is suggested that Cryptosporidium spp. might be accumulated from the environment.

Dr Anastasios Tsaousis, Reader in Molecular and Evolutionary Parasitology at Kent and the corresponding author of the paper, said: ‘This research is of major importance in terms of product value in the dairy farm industry and safety to human life. The findings indicate Cryptosporidium levels to be so high as to be of severe concern to the European and UK dairy market.”

The project received funding from Interreg 2 Seas 2014-2020, a European Territorial Cooperation Programme covering England, France, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Article: Pinto, P., Ribeiro, C. A., Hoque, S., Hammouma, O., Leruste, H., Détriché, S., Canniere, E., Daandels, Y., Dellevoet, M., Roemen, J., Barbier Bourgeois, A., Kváč, M., Follet, J., Tsaousis, A. D. (2021). Cross-Border Investigations on the Prevalence and Transmission Dynamics of Cryptosporidium Species in Dairy Cattle Farms in Western Mainland Europe. Microorganisms, 9(11), 2394, doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9112394

[SOURCE: University of Kent]