Folia Parasitologica, vol. 55 (2008), issue 2

Folia Parasitologica 55[2] 95-99 (2008) | 10.14411/fp.2008.012

Natural infection with two genotypes of Cryptosporidium in red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in Italy

Martin Kváč1,2, Lada Hofmannová3, Sandro Bertolino4, Luc Wauters5, Guido Tosi5, David Modrý1,3
1 Institute of Parasitology, Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Branišovská 31, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
2 Faculty of Agriculture, University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Studentská 13, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
3 Department of Parasitology, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Palackého 1-3, 612 42 Brno, Czech Republic
4 DIVAPRA Entomology and Zoology, University of Turin, Via L. da Vinci 44, I-10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
5 Department 'Environment-Health-Safety', University of Insubria, Varese, Via J.H. Dunant 3, I-21100 Varese, Italy

We investigated the genotypes of Cryptosporidium infecting red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris L.) in two areas of the Western Alps in Italy. Examination of 141 faecal samples from 70 red squirrels revealed oocysts of Cryptosporidium in 17 animals (24.3%). Based on 18S rRNA gene sequencing, two genotypes of Cryptosporidium species were found: 15 squirrels were positive for the Cryptosporidium ferret genotype and 2 for the Cryptosporidium chipmunk genotype I. The occurrence and intensity of Cryptosporidium infection did not differ between the study areas or sex. More than 85% of the positive animals were adults; however no difference was found between Cryptosporidium infection in the juvenile and adult age groups. Oocysts of the Cryptosporidium ferret genotype measured 5.5 ± 0.3 × 5.2 ± 0.2 µm (shape index 1.06) and the Cryptosporidium chipmunk genotype I 5.8 ± 0.3 × 5.4 ± 0.3 µm (shape index 1.07). Neonatal and adult CD1 and BABL/c mice inoculated with 1 × 103 fresh oocysts of both genotypes did not produce detectable infection.

Keywords: Cryptosporidium, 18S rRNA, oocyst morphology, infectivity, Sciurus vulgaris, red squirrel

Received: January 4, 2008; Accepted: April 3, 2008; Published: June 1, 2008


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