Prevalence of Cryptosporidium in small ruminants from Veracruz, Mexico
© Romero-Salas et al. 2016
Received: 10 July 2015
Accepted: 14 January 2016
Published: 19 January 2016
Cryptosporidiosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium spp. that can affect domestic animal and human populations. In newborn ruminants, cryptosporidiosis is characterized by outbreaks of diarrhea, which can result in high morbidity and economic impact. The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. in small ruminants from the Perote municipality in Veracruz State, Mexico. One hundred and sixty small ruminants (80 sheep and 80 goats) from eight farms located in four towns of the Perote municipality were examined following a cross-sectional study design. Stool samples were analyzed by a modification of the Faust centrifugation method, and the presence of Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts was examined using a modification of the Ziehl-Neelsen staining procedure. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess the association of Cryptosporidium infection and the general characteristics of the animals studied.
Overall, 112 (70 %, 95 % CI: 62.3–76.9) of the 160 small ruminants sampled were infected with Cryptosporidium spp. The prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. infection in goats was 72.5 % (95 % CI: 61.4–81.9) and in sheep 67.5 % (95 % CI: 56.1–77.6). Small ruminants aged 1 month old had the highest (88.2 %; 95 % CI: 63.6–98.5) prevalence of infection. Prevalence varied from 60 % to 85 % among herds. Animal species, age, sex, breed, farm, town or cohabitation with cattle did not influence the prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection.
A high prevalence of infection with Cryptosporidium spp. was observed in small ruminants from the Perote municipality in Veracruz, Mexico. Infection was widely distributed among sheep and goats regardless of their age, breed or farm location. Further research is required to identify risk factors for, and to assess the veterinary public health significance of Cryptosporidium infection among sheep and goats in the Mexican state of Veracruz.
KeywordsCryptosporidium Infection Zonoosis Prevalence Small ruminants Sheep Goats Veracruz State Mexico
Cryptosporidium is a zoonotic protozoan parasite of the Apicomplexa phylum and the Cryptosporidiidae family . Cryptosporidium is an important pathogen in cattle and humans , and infection with this parasite in cattle may lead to economic losses due to morbidity and mortality [3, 4]. Cryptosporidium spp. infecting sheep and goats have been found to be of public health significance [5, 6].
Cryptosporidiosis, the disease caused by Cryptosporidium, is characterized by diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss [7–9]. Cryptosporidium affects epithelial cells of the small intestine and occasionally stomach, gall bladder, liver, trachea, and lungs in a number of mammals including humans [10, 11]. Cryptosporidium is a widely distributed parasite and can infect more than 170 species of vertebrates . Transmission of Cryptosporidium occurs mainly by the fecal-oral route . In sheep and goats, cryptosporidiosis is an important enteric disease resulting in diarrhea and inefficient weight gains , and is more severe in young than in adult animals [13, 14]. Animals infected with Cryptosporidium shed a large (108–109 /g) number of oocysts . These oocysts are source of infection for animals and humans . In humans, infection with Cryptosporidium causes diarrheal disease , and chronic and fatal disease in immunocompromised individuals . Additionally, Cryptosporidium infection has been linked to cancer in humans [4, 19].
Infection with Cryptosporidium in young sheep and goats may lead to morbidity and even mortality due to diarrhea [20–22]. Effective disease prevention requires an understanding of the environmental factors predisposing animal and human populations to infectious causes of diarrhea like Cryptosporidium spp. [23, 24]. However, very little is known about the infection with Cryptosporidium spp. in sheep and goats in Mexico in general and there is a lack of information about this infection in the southern Mexican state of Veracruz in particular. Therefore, we sought to determine the prevalence of infection with Cryptosporidium spp. in sheep and goats in the municipality of Perote in Veracruz State, Mexico.
This cross-sectional study was performed in the municipality of Perote in Veracruz, Mexico from July to December 2014. Perote, the capital of the municipality with the same name, is located in the central-west region of Veracruz State (19°34’N 97°15’W) at an altitude of 2400 meters above sea level and has a cold and dry climate with a mean annual temperature of 12 °C, and a mean annual rainfall of 493.6 mm.
Sheep and goats studied
Eighty sheep and 80 goats from the Perote municipality in Veracruz State were included in the study. Convenience sampling was applied. The small ruminant population sampled was raised in eight farms where sheep and goats herds were kept. Farms were located in four towns: 1) Perote; 2) San Antonio Limón; 3) Los Molinos; and 4) La Gloria. Ten sheep and 10 goats were sampled from each farm. Sheep and goats were young (up to 3 months old). A fecal sample from the rectum was obtained from each animal. Fecal samples were placed in a plastic bag and analyzed a day after sampling. General data of the agroecosystem and animals studied were obtained with the aid of a questionnaire. Animal data included species, age, sex, breed, presence of diarrhea, and history of deworming. Agroecosystem data collected included farm location, nearest town, sharing water with other animals, and cohabitation with dogs or cattle.
Small ruminant fecal samples were analyzed using a modification of the centrifuge-flotation method of Faust . Briefly, three grams of fecal sample were homogenized in distilled water and centrifuged at 1500 rpm for 1 min. Then supernatant was removed and the homogenization and centrifugation processes were repeated. After removing the supernatant, the sediment was resuspended in ZnSO4 (44 %) and centrifuged. Finally, the supernatant was removed and sediment was examined. Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected by a modification of the Ziehl-Neelsen staining method . Samples were examined under oil immersion objective (100x) and oocysts were identified based on morphological features.
Results were analyzed with the aid of the software Microsoft Excel, SPSS version 15.0 (SPSS Inc. Chicago, Illinois) and STATA version 11.0. Descriptive statistics were used to determine the prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection in sheep and goats. We used the Pearson’s chi-squared test for comparison of infection frequencies among groups. The association between Cryptosporidium infection, animal characteristics, and agroecosystem features was assessed by bivariate and multivariate analyses. The dependent variable was positivity to Cryptosporidium by Ziehl-Neelsen staining per individual animal. Independent variables included in the multivariable analysis were those with a P value ≤0.10 in the bivariate analysis: age, town, and farm. Odds ratio (OR) and 95 % confidence interval (CI) were calculated and statistical significance was set at a P value of < 0.05.
The Bioethics and Animal Welfare Commission of the Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia of Universidad Veracruzana approved this project. Owners of the sheep and goats gave their consent to study their animals. Adequate veterinary care was provided to all animals studied.
Results and discussion
Infection with Cryptosporidium was found in 112 (70.0 %; 95 % CI: 62.3–77.0 %) of the 160 small ruminants studied. Of the 80 sheep examined, 54 (67.5 %; 95 % CI: 56.1–77.6) were positive for Cryptosporidium infection. Whereas of the 80 goats studied, 58 (72.5 %; 95 % CI 61.4–81.9 %) were positive for Cryptosporidium infection. These results provide for the first time evidence of Cryptosporidium spp. infection in sheep and goats in the municipality of Perote in Veracruz, Mexico.
Information about the prevalence of infection with Cryptosporidium in animals in Mexico is scant. The prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection in sheep reported here is higher than the 34.3 % prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection in sheep in northern Mexico . We are not aware of reports about the prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection in goats in Mexico. Therefore, we cannot compare our results with those in other region in the country. In an international context, the prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection found in sheep in Veracruz is higher than the prevalences found in sheep in Spain (31–59 %) [28, 29], Poland (10.1 %) , Egypt (2.5 %) , Iran (11.3 %) , Iraq (13.3 %) , Tunisia (11.2 %) , India (1.8 %) , and Papua New Guinea (2.2 %) . Similarly, the prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection found in goats in Veracruz is higher than prevalences found in goats in Spain (30 %) , Poland (0 %) , Iraq (17.7 %) , and Papua New Guinea (4.4 %) . However, comparison of prevalences of Cryptosporidium infection in animals among countries should be interpreted with care because matching for characteristics of animals and their raising conditions is challenging.
Sheep and goats may serve as reservoirs of Cryptosporidium for human infections . Outbreaks of infection with Cryptosporidium in schoolchildren associated with contact with lamb/goat kids have been reported . The occurrence of these outbreaks 3 years apart, with the same parasite in the same farm suggested that Cryptosporidium might establish in the environment . In addition, cryptosporidiosis has been associated with consumption of unpasteurized goat milk in children . Therefore, our results should alert for the risk of infection in humans in Veracruz through contact with infected sheep and goats, and consumption of unpasteurized milk from infected goats. Cryptosporidium infection has been reported in animals other than sheep and goat in Veracruz, Mexico. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection in cattle in several municipalities in Veracruz varied from 14.3 % to 75 % [39, 40]. Sheep, goats, and cattle are frequently raised together in Veracruz, and this interaction along with poor hygienic sanitary conditions in the agroecosystems where they are raised might account for transmission of Cryptosporidium infection among animal species . A number of Cryptosporidium species/genotypes infecting sheep has been described including C. parvum, C. bovis, C. cervine [42–44], and C. hominis . Whereas some Cryptosporidium species/genotypes infecting goats include C. xiaoi [36, 45], C. parvum, and C. hominis .
Correlation of Cryptosporidium infection with the general characteristics of the animals(sheep and goats together) and the agroecosystem where they were raised
No. of animals
95 % Confidence
Breed of Sheep
Breed of goats
San Antonio Limón
Cohabitation with cattle
The prevalence of infection with Cryptosporidium spp among sheep and goats in the Perote municipality in Veracruz, Mexico is relatively high. Infection was widely distributed among small ruminants regardless of their age, breed or the agroecosystem where they were raised. Further research to identify risk factors for Cryptosporidium infection in sheep and goats and the zoonotic potential of cryptosporidiosis in Veracruz State is needed.
This study was financially supported by Universidad Veracruzana, Veracruz, Mexico. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
- Romero MR, Pedrozo RH, Vera E. La Criptosporidiosis en los terneros recién nacidos. Su etiología, patogenia, síntomas, tratamiento y profilaxis. Revista de Ciencia y Tecnología dirección de investigaciones –UNA. 2001;1:1–10.Google Scholar
- Bouzid M, Hunter PR, Chalmers RM, Tyler KM. Cryptosporidium pathogenicity and virulence. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2013;26:115–34. doi:https://doi.org/10.1128/CMR.00076-12.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Casemore DP, Wright SE, Coop RL. Cryptosporidiosis: Human and animal epidemiology. In: Fayer R, editor. Cryptosporidium and cryptosporidiosis. Boca Raton: CRC, Press; 1997. p. 65–92.Google Scholar
- Lendner M, Etzold M, Daugschies A. Cryptosporidiosis--an update. Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2011;124:473–84.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Robertson LJ, Gjerde BK, Furuseth HE. The zoonotic potential of Giardia and Cryptosporidium in Norwegian sheep: a longitudinal investigation of 6 flocks of lambs. Vet Parasitol. 2010;171(1–2):140–5. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2010.03.014.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Wang R, Li G, Cui B, Huang J, Cui Z, Zhang S, et al. Prevalence, molecular characterization and zoonotic potential of Cryptosporidium spp. in goats in Henan and Chongqing, China. Exp Parasitol. 2014;142:11–6. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exppara.2014.04.001.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Fayer R, Morgan U, Upton SJ. Epidemiology of Cryptosporidium: Transmission, detection and identification. Int J Parasitol. 2000;30:1305–22.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Panciera RJ, Thomassen RW, Garner FM. Cryptosporidial infection in a calf. Vet Pathol. 1971;8:479–84.Google Scholar
- Santín M, Trout JM, Xiao L, Zhou L, Greiner E, Fayer R. Prevalence and age-related variation of Cryptosporidium species and genotypes in dairy calves. Vet Parasitol. 2004;122:103–17.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Pilar-Izquierdo M, Ortega-Mora LM, Pereira-Bueno J, Rojo-Vázquez FA. Participación de Cryptosporidium parvum en brotes de diarrea en corderos en el NO de Castilla y León. Acta Parasitol Port. 1993;1:223.Google Scholar
- Hunter PR, Thompson RC. The zoonotic transmission of Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Int J Parasitol. 2005;35:1181–90.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Foreyt WJ. Coccidiosis and cryptosporidiosis in sheep and goats. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 1990;6:655–70.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Chalmers RM, Elwin K, Reilly WJ, Irvine H, Thomas AL, Hunter PR. Cryptosporidium in farmed animals: the detection of a novel isolate in sheep. Int J Parasitol. 2002;32:21–6.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- de Graaf DC, Vanopdenbosch E, Ortega-Mora LM, Abbassi H, Peeters JE. A review of the importance of cryptosporidiosis in farm animals. Int J Parasitol. 1999;29:1269–87.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Ortegà-Mora LM, Wright SE. Age-related resistance in ovine cryptosporidiosis: patterns of infection and humoral immune response. Infect Immun. 1994;62:5003–9.PubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Lee YM, Johnson PW, Call JL, Arrowood MJ, Furness BW, Pichette SC, et al. Development and application of a quantitative, specific assay for Cryptosporidium parvum oocyst detection in high-turbidity environmental water samples. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2001;65:1–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Checkley W, White Jr AC, Jaganath D, Arrowood MJ, Chalmers RM, Chen XM, et al. A review of the global burden, novel diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccine targets for Cryptosporidium. Lancet Infect Dis. 2015;15:85–94. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70772-8.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Wilhelm CL, Yarovinsky F. Apicomplexan infections in the gut. Parasite Immunol. 2014;36:409–20. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/pim.12115.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Benamrouz S, Conseil V, Creusy C, Calderon E, Dei-Cas E, Certad G. Parasites and malignancies, a review, with emphasis on digestive cancer induced by Cryptosporidium parvum (Alveolata: Apicomplexa). Parasite. 2012;19:101–15.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Tzipori S, Angus KW, Gray EW, Campbell I, Allan F. Diarrhea in lambs experimentally infected with Cryptosporidium isolated from calves. Am J Vet Res. 1981;42:1400–4.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kaminjolo JS, Adesiyun AA, Loregnard R, Kitson-Piggott W. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium oocysts in livestock in Trinidad and Tobago. Vet Parasitol. 1993;45:209–13.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Thompson RC, Olson ME, Zhu G, Enomoto S, Abrahamsen MS, Hijjawi NS. Cryptosporidium and cryptosporidiosis. Adv Parasitol. 2005;59:77–158.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Collinet-Adler S, Babji S, Francis M, Kattula D, Premkumar PS, Sarkar R, et al. Environmental factors associated with high fly densities and diarrhea in Vellore, India. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015;81(17):6053–8.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Rossle NF, Latif B. Cryptosporidiosis as threatening health problem : a review. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013;3:916–24.PubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Leventhal R, Cheadle R. Parasitología Médica. 3ath ed. México: Ed. Interamericana, Mc Graw-Hill; 1992.Google Scholar
- Casemore DP, Armstrong M, Sands RL. Laboratory diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis. J Clin Pathol. 1985;38:1337–41.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Alonso-Fresán MU, García-Alvarez A, Salazar-García F, Vázquez-Chagoyán JC, Pescador-Salas N, Saltijeral-Oaxaca J. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. in asymptomatic sheep in family flocks from Mexico State. J Vet Med B Infect Dis Vet Public Health. 2005;52:482–3.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Causapé AC, Quílez J, Sánchez-Acedo C, del Cacho E, López-Bernad F. Prevalence and analysis of potential risk factors for Cryptosporidium parvum infection in lambs in Zaragoza (northeastern Spain). Vet Parasitol. 2002;104:287–98.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Castro-Hermida JA, González-Warleta M, Mezo M. Natural infection with Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia duodenalis in sheep and goats in Galicia (NW, Spain). Small Rumin Res. 2007;72:96–100.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Majewska AC, Werner A, Sulima P, Luty T. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium in sheep and goats bred on five farms in west-central region of Poland. Vet Parasitol. 2000;89:269–75.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Mahfouz ME, Mira N, Amer S. Prevalence and genotyping of Cryptosporidium spp. in farm animals in Egypt. J Vet Med Sci. 2014;76:1569–75. doi:https://doi.org/10.1292/jvms.14-0272.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Gharekhani J, Heidari H, Youssefi M. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection in sheep in Iran. Turkiye Parazitol Derg. 2014;38:22–5. doi:https://doi.org/10.5152/tpd.2014.3224.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Mahdi NK, Ali NH. Cryptosporidiosis among animal handlers and their livestock in Basrah, Iraq. East Afr Med J. 2002;79:550–3.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Soltane R, Guyot K, Dei-Cas E, Ayadi A. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. (Eucoccidiorida: Cryptosporiidae) in seven species of farm animals in Tunisia. Parasite. 2007;14:335–8.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Maurya PS, Rakesh RL, Pradeep B, Kumar S, Kundu K, Garg R, et al. Prevalence and risk factors associated with Cryptosporidium spp. infection in young domestic livestock in India. Trop Anim Health Prod. 2013;45:941–6. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-012-0311-1.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Koinari M, Lymbery AJ, Ryan UM. Cryptosporidium species in sheep and goats from Papua New Guinea. Exp Parasitol. 2014;141:134–7. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exppara.2014.03.021.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Lange H, Johansen OH, Vold L, Robertson LJ, Anthonisen IL, Nygard K. Second outbreak of infection with a rare Cryptosporidium parvum genotype in schoolchildren associated with contact with lambs/goat kids at a holiday farm in Norway. Epidemiol Infect. 2014;142:2105–13. doi:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268813003002.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Rosenthal M, Pedersen R, Leibsle S, Hill V, Carter K, Roellig DM, et al. Notes from the field: cryptosporidiosis associated with consumption of unpasteurized goat milk - Idaho, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64:194–5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Castelán-Hernández OO, Romero-Salas D, García-Vázquez Z, Cruz-Vázquez C, Aguilar-Domínguez M, del Jesus Ibarra-Priego N, et al. Prevalence of bovine cryptosporidiosis in three ecological regions of the central region of Veracruz, Mexico. Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems. 2011;13:461–7.Google Scholar
- Romero-Salas D, Godoy-Salinas O, García-Vázquez Z, Montiel Palacios F, Chavarría-Martínez B. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. and associated risk factors in female calves in the central region of Veracruz, Mexico. Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems. 2012;15 Suppl 2:S89–94.Google Scholar
- Sanz Ceballos L, Illescas Gómez P, Sanz Sampelayo MR, Gil Extremera F, Rodríguez OM. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection in goats maintained under semi-extensive feeding conditions in the southeast of Spain. Parasite. 2009;16:315–8.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Yang R, Jacobson C, Gordon C, Ryan U. Prevalence and molecular characterisation of Cryptosporidium and Giardia species in pre-weaned sheep in Australia. Vet Parasitol. 2009;161:19–24. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2008.12.021.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Mueller-Doblies D, Giles M, Elwin K, Smith RP, Clifton-Hadley FA, Chalmers RM. Distribution of Cryptosporidium species in sheep in the UK. Vet Parasitol. 2008;154:214–9. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2008.03.021.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Santín M, Trout JM, Fayer R. Prevalence and molecular characterization of Cryptosporidium and Giardia species and genotypes in sheep in Maryland. Vet Parasitol. 2007;146:17–24.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Tzanidakis N, Sotiraki S, Claerebout E, Ehsan A, Voutzourakis N, Kostopoulou D, et al. Occurrence and molecular characterization of Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. in sheep and goats reared under dairy husbandry systems in Greece. Parasite. 2014;21:45. doi:https://doi.org/10.1051/parasite/2014048.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Quílez J, Vergara-Castiblanco C, Sánchez-Acedo C, Del Cacho E, López-Bernad F. Prevalencia de Cryptosporidium parvum en ganado caprino en la provincia de Zaragoza. Estudio preliminar. Acta Parasitol Port. 2001;8:167.Google Scholar
- Ramo A, Quílez J, Del Cacho E, Sánchez-Acedo C. Optimization of a fragment size analysis tool for identification of Cryptosporidium species and Gp60 alleles infecting domestic ruminants. Vet Parasitol. 2014;205:466–71. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2014.08.025.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Connelly L, Craig BH, Jones B, Alexander CL. Genetic diversity of Cryptosporidium spp. within a remote population of Soay Sheep on St. Kilda Islands, Scotland. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013;79(7):2240–6. doi:https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.02823-12.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar