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Rise in cryptosporidiosis

KRYPTO project launched to determine causes

Published : 08 Jul 2019, 20:52

Updated : 09 Jul 2019, 04:18

  DF Report

City of Helsinki photo by Mikko Uro.

Previously, the C. parvum diarrhoea in calves has been rare in Finland, but over the past decade the number of cases has multiplied, said the Finnish Food Authority in a bulletin.

The protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium causes intestinal infection, cryptosporidiosis, in humans and animals.

Cryptosporidiosis in calves causes severe problems, especially on dairy farms. From dairy farms, cryptosporidiosis is easily transmitted by calves to calf-rearing facilities. Also the cases of human cryptosporidiosis have quickly increased tenfold.

There are many challenges related to the management of the transmission risk, and tackling these challenges is the goal of the recently launched KRYPTO project. The three-year project contains epidemiological studies of both human and dairy farm cases of cryptosporidiosis.

The project is a collaborative initiative between the Finnish Food Authority, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the Animal health ETT association, University of Helsinki, Valio Oy and the European Union Reference Laboratory for Parasites. The project is funded by the Development Fund for Agriculture and Forestry (Makera).

The strong increase in cases suggests that the structural changes in the cattle-farming sector favour the occurrence of cryptosporidiosis. Therefore, it will be determined during this project, which factors and conditions assist the transmission of the infection and the occurrence of disease outbursts on farms. Supported by information, the risk-management procedures can be directed correctly and, thereby, the wellbeing of animals can be improved and infections in humans can be prevented.

The farm survey will examine, among others, the methods of operation (calving conditions, colostrum feeding, calf facilities, hygiene practices and preventive measures against infections), animal transportations, events on the farm preceding the outbreak, other cattle illnesses and, for example, the possibility of water-borne infections.

Dairy farms of more than 50 cows where C. parvum has been found in the diarrhoea samples of calves are invited to participate in the study. The study will invite randomly selected Valio dairy farms where no diarrhoea problems involving calves have been detected during the past year to participate as control farms.

The farm can provide their survey responses electronically, in writing or via telephone. The survey will be conducted in the winter season of 2019-2020. Also the control farms will be requested to send faecal samples from calves for laboratory analysis, so that information can be obtained on the occurrence of the protozoa as a latent infection and on the occurrence of various subtypes.