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Dynamics of protozoal excretion in the faeces of calves during the first 28 days after arrival at the fattening farm indicate infection before regrouping and show poor temporal correlation with diarrhoea


Bauer, Jessica; Kaske, Martin; Oehm, Andreas; Schnyder, Manuela (2023). Dynamics of protozoal excretion in the faeces of calves during the first 28 days after arrival at the fattening farm indicate infection before regrouping and show poor temporal correlation with diarrhoea. Parasites & Vectors, 16(1):338.

Abstract

Background: Calves in dairy cattle production in Switzerland are transported to a fattening farm at the age of 3–5 weeks, and frequently suffer from diarrhoea within the first 14 days after arrival. To characterise the role of intestinal protozoa in this, we investigated the excretion dynamics of Eimeria, Cryptosporidium and Giardia during the first 28 days after the arrival and regrouping of calves at fattening farms.
Methods: A total of 610 faecal samples from 122 calves (mean age 37.3 days; mean body weight 79.8 kg) were collected on seven different fattening farms during the first 28 days after the arrival and regrouping of the animals. The farms were visited between January and April (cold season; n = 4) and between June and August (warm season; n = 3). The samples were collected rectally on days 1, 4, 7, 14 and 28, assessed for consistency, and analysed using the McMaster method for quantitative determination of the number of Eimeria oocysts per gram of faeces (OPG), flotation for morphological differentiation of the unsporulated Eimeria oocysts, a concentration method for the semi-quantitative determination of Giardia cysts, and modified Ziehl–Neelsen staining for semi-quantitative determination of Cryptosporidium oocysts.
Results: Overall, 50.8% (62/122) of the animals had diarrhoea during the study period. However, the faecal excretion of protozoal pathogens was neither associated with diarrhoea nor with body weight gain of the animals. Altogether, 90.2% (110/122) of the calves were Eimeria positive. Eimeria zuernii was excreted by 51 (41.8%) and Eimeria bovis by 68 (55.7%) animals. In the warm season more animals tested positive for Eimeria and OPGs were higher than in the cold season. There was no correlation between the age of the calves and the OPG values. Overall, 64.8% (79/122) of the calves excreted Eimeria oocysts within the first 7 days, indicating that they had been infected with the parasite on the dairy farm of origin. Eighty-nine calves (73.0%) excreted Giardia cysts, with more positive animals in the cold (80.3%) compared with the warm season (64.3%). Only Giardia duodenalis assemblage E was identified. Cryptosporidium oocysts were microscopically detected in 14 animals (11.5%) on five farms. Cryptosporidium spp. were present in a total of 12 animals, i.e. Cryptosporidium parvum in nine, Cryptosporidium ryanae in two, and Cryptosporidium bovis in one animal.
Conclusions: A better understanding of the temporal dynamics of protozoal infections in calves is helpful for the implementation of appropriate measures to protect the health of these animals at a critical phase in their lives. Our results indicate that factors other than those examined in the present study contributed to the onset of diarrhoea in the calves.
Graphical abstract

Abstract

Background: Calves in dairy cattle production in Switzerland are transported to a fattening farm at the age of 3–5 weeks, and frequently suffer from diarrhoea within the first 14 days after arrival. To characterise the role of intestinal protozoa in this, we investigated the excretion dynamics of Eimeria, Cryptosporidium and Giardia during the first 28 days after the arrival and regrouping of calves at fattening farms.
Methods: A total of 610 faecal samples from 122 calves (mean age 37.3 days; mean body weight 79.8 kg) were collected on seven different fattening farms during the first 28 days after the arrival and regrouping of the animals. The farms were visited between January and April (cold season; n = 4) and between June and August (warm season; n = 3). The samples were collected rectally on days 1, 4, 7, 14 and 28, assessed for consistency, and analysed using the McMaster method for quantitative determination of the number of Eimeria oocysts per gram of faeces (OPG), flotation for morphological differentiation of the unsporulated Eimeria oocysts, a concentration method for the semi-quantitative determination of Giardia cysts, and modified Ziehl–Neelsen staining for semi-quantitative determination of Cryptosporidium oocysts.
Results: Overall, 50.8% (62/122) of the animals had diarrhoea during the study period. However, the faecal excretion of protozoal pathogens was neither associated with diarrhoea nor with body weight gain of the animals. Altogether, 90.2% (110/122) of the calves were Eimeria positive. Eimeria zuernii was excreted by 51 (41.8%) and Eimeria bovis by 68 (55.7%) animals. In the warm season more animals tested positive for Eimeria and OPGs were higher than in the cold season. There was no correlation between the age of the calves and the OPG values. Overall, 64.8% (79/122) of the calves excreted Eimeria oocysts within the first 7 days, indicating that they had been infected with the parasite on the dairy farm of origin. Eighty-nine calves (73.0%) excreted Giardia cysts, with more positive animals in the cold (80.3%) compared with the warm season (64.3%). Only Giardia duodenalis assemblage E was identified. Cryptosporidium oocysts were microscopically detected in 14 animals (11.5%) on five farms. Cryptosporidium spp. were present in a total of 12 animals, i.e. Cryptosporidium parvum in nine, Cryptosporidium ryanae in two, and Cryptosporidium bovis in one animal.
Conclusions: A better understanding of the temporal dynamics of protozoal infections in calves is helpful for the implementation of appropriate measures to protect the health of these animals at a critical phase in their lives. Our results indicate that factors other than those examined in the present study contributed to the onset of diarrhoea in the calves.
Graphical abstract

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinärwissenschaftliches Institut > Institute of Parasitology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Parasitology
Dewey Decimal Classification:600 Technology
570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Parasitology
Health Sciences > General Veterinary
Health Sciences > Infectious Diseases
Uncontrolled Keywords:Infectious Diseases, Parasitology, General Veterinary
Language:English
Date:27 September 2023
Deposited On:17 Feb 2024 13:35
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 03:31
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1756-3305
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-023-05911-0
PubMed ID:37759304
Project Information:
  • : FunderInstitute of Parasitology of the University of Zurich
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSwiss health service for calves
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)