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Cryptosporidiosis

Cause

Cryptosporidiosis is caused by infection with the single-celled parasite - Cryptosporidium parvum. This parasite is found in many mammals including lambs, calves, goat kids, piglets and humans. Research so far has shown two basic types, the bovine type which affects most species, and a second human type which causes disease in humans only.

Outbreaks of human disease, where large numbers of people are affected, are usually water-borne and usually associated with the bovine type of cryptosporidium.

Cryptosporidiosis is usually seen in calves between one and four weeks of age. It is very rare in animals older than a month because by this age most animals will have become immune to infection.

Symptoms

  • Diarrhea - watery and loose
  • Colic
  • Depression, loss of appetite and weight loss

Treatment

There is no effective or approved treatment for Cryptosporidiosis, however many cases will recover on there own.

Sick calves should be housed in a clean, warm, and dry environment. They need fluid therapy to counteract and prevent further dehydration as well as electrolytes to replace those lost due to diarrhea. They also need nutritional support to give them energy to fight disease and repair their bodies.

Prevention

Although the organism is very resistant, moving unaffected calves to a clean area and away from affected calves may prevent the spread of disease on the farm. General sanitation practices are also a primary control method that yields high results.

Although it has been shown that calves that do not receive colostrum are not more likely to get cryptosporidiosis that calves that do receive colostrum, efforts should always be made to ensure adequate colostrum intake by calves. However, receiving adequate colostrum immediately after birth helps prevent invasion of opportunistic pathogens which can worsen or compound the severity of disease in calves with cryptosporidiosis.

Studies have been done to test trial vaccines. Some of these vaccines have been shown to be clinically significant (no field trial have been done) not only in preventing clinical disease but in reducing environmental contamination with the organism. However, there is currently no vaccine commercially available to prevent the disease.

Finally good hygeine and management on farm will reduce the chance of infection spreading.

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