Cryptosporidiosis is the disease caused by infection with protozoan parasites called Cryptosporidium. The disease causes production losses in livestock farming and can also be a significant cause of disease and morbidity in humans; especially in the young, elderly or immune-compromised individuals.
The Cryptosporidium group of parasites can infect a wide range of animal species including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chicken, horses, deer and camelids, through the faecal oral route. Infections tend to be more severe in neonatal animals and infections in adult animals tend to be subclinical. Clinical signs occur 3-7 days after infection and include profuse watery diarrhoea, inappetance, gastrointestinal discomfort, abdominal tension, nausea and a mild fever.
The infective part of the parasite’s life cycle, the oocyst or egg, has a very tough outer shell and can survive very happily in a range of environmental conditions particularly if it is mild and humid. They are therefore very well equipped to survive the UK climate, where they can remain viable for over a year in soils, on pasture and in water. The oocyst stage of the parasite can also survive many commonly used farm disinfectants and water chlorination treatment, making it difficult for farmers, vets and water suppliers to control or inactivate it.
Current interests and future aims:
Moredun is conducting research on Cryptosporidium parasites within the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme (2016-2021) looking at developing new diagnostics and genotyping tools. The research also looks at farm transmission routes, parasite epidemiology, host parasite interactions and catchment studies. (add link)
CryptoHost: Host factors in determining resistance to cryptosporidiosis in cattle. (BBSRC-ARC)
This project is lead by the Moredun Research Institute and is run in collaboration with The Roslin Institute and BioSS. This project will provide the fullest exploration yet of how cattle resist infection with Cryptosporidium parasites. A detailed account of the host responses involved will provide an important knowledge platform that will enable the development of vaccines to aid disease prevention and the identification of relevant biomarkers that will enable selective breeding programmes to improve resilience. In addition, the development of novel in vitro bovine systems would revolutionise our capability to study host-pathogen interactions with Cryptosporidium minimising the need for use of animal models. Outputs from the project will be of interest to the animal health industry, livestock producers, environmental and public health workers and to academic researchers. The development of effective control strategies will have a significant impact on the sustainable efficiency of animal production, safeguard food security, improve animal health and welfare, reduce waste and environmental contamination and improve public and environmental health.
This is a large EU project, coordinated by the University of East Anglia involving over 40 academic and industrial partners from 13 European countries. AQUAVALENS is centred on the concept of developing suitable platforms that harness the advances in new molecular techniques to permit the routine detection of waterborne pathogens and improve the provision of hygienically safe water for drinking and food production that is appropriate for large and small systems throughout Europe. Whilst in recent years there has been considerable developments, especially in molecular technology, very few systems are available that meet the needs of water providers. Consequently rather than developing new technologies, the key focus of Aquavalens is to adopt and, where appropriate, adapt existing technologies to develop these detection systems. Moredun’s role in the project is to develop methods to detect and genotyping Cryptosporidium parvum in water supplies.
AHDB- PhD studentship: Control of cryptosporidiosis in calves
This PhD project investigates: (i) the transmission cycle of the parasite (the role of adult cows and environmental contamination); (ii) identify ways to reduce transmission to vulnerable young calves; (iii) investigate the economic impact of cryptosporidiosis on long term health, weight gain and production efficiency; (iv) investigate if timely colostrum uptake will reduce the risk of clinical cryptosporidiosis. The information gained will be used to develop farm management guidelines and practices that will minimise cryptosporidiosis in beef and dairy calves.
Stirling University/SRUC PhD studentship: A catchment-based approach to determine environmental controls of Cryptosporidium transfer from land to water in collaboration with Scottish Water
This project investigates the environmental dynamics of Cryptosporidium oocysts associated with areas of livestock grazing versus areas of rewilding (which are becoming more common in highland glens). The overall aim is to provide critical advances in quantification and understanding of spatial and temporal controls on Cryptosporidium transfer from land to water in agricultural systems. The student will address the following questions:
For further Information about Cryptosporidiosis please see Moredun Newssheet 7.1 – Cryptosporidiosis in Cattle:
Our team frequently engage in outreach work talking to farmers, vets, SQPs and industry. Please contact us if you are interested in speakers on cryptosporidiosis at your event.