Veterinary parasitology

The occurrence and genetic characterization of Cryptosporidium and Giardia species in foals in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Greece.

PMID 26012855


Faecal samples were collected from foals between the age of 1 week and 6 months in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Greece. A quantitative direct immunofluorescence assay based on the commercial MERIFLUOR Cryptosporidium/Giardia kit was performed to evaluate the presence of (oo) cysts. Parasite positive samples were genotyped, based on the 18S ribosomal DNA gene and the heat shock protein (HSP70) gene for Cryptosporidium and on the β-giardin gene and the triose phosphate isomerase (TPI) gene for Giardia. In total, 134 foals from Belgium, 44 foals from The Netherlands, 30 foals from Germany and 190 foals from Greece were examined. No Cryptosporidium oocysts were identified in faecal samples from foals in Germany and The Netherlands. In Belgium and Greece, 4.5% and 1.1% of the foals examined were Cryptosporidium positive, respectively, all with a low oocyst excretion ranging from 100 to 2450 oocysts per gram of faeces. For Giardia, 14.2%, 11.4%, 10.0% and 11.6% of the foals in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Greece, respectively, were found to excrete cysts, with a range of 50 up to 4,000,000 cysts per gram of faeces. Younger animals secreted significantly more Giardia cysts than older horses (p<0.05), but no significant correlation between Giardia infection and diarrhoea was observed. Most Giardia positive samples belonged to assemblage AI and/or BIV, but also assemblage E was detected in two samples. Together with the identification of Cryptosporidium horse genotype, this suggests only a low risk for zoonotic transmission.