Zoonotic Cryptosporidium Species in Animals Inhabiting Sydney Water Catchments

Alireza Zahedi, Paul Monis, Sarah Aucote, Brendon King, Andrea Paparini, Fuchun Jian, Rongchang Yang, Charlotte Oskam, Andrew Ball, Ian Robertson, Una Ryan

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    45 Citations (Scopus)


    Cryptosporidium is one of the most common zoonotic waterborne parasitic diseases worldwide and represents a major public health concern of water utilities in developed nations. As animals in catchments can shed human-infectious Cryptosporidium oocysts, determining the potential role of animals in dissemination of zoonotic Cryptosporidium to drinking water sources is crucial. In the present study, a total of 952 animal faecal samples from four dominant species (kangaroos, rabbits, cattle and sheep) inhabiting Sydney's drinking water catchments were screened for the presence of Cryptosporidium using a quantitative PCR (qPCR) and positives sequenced at multiple loci. Cryptosporidium species were detected in 3.6% (21/576) of kangaroos, 7.0% (10/142) of cattle, 2.3% (3/128) of sheep and 13.2% (14/106) of rabbit samples screened. Sequence analysis of a region of the 18S rRNA locus identified C. macropodum and C. hominis in 4 and 17 isolates from kangaroos respectively, C. hominis and C. parvum in 6 and 4 isolates respectively each from cattle, C. ubiquitum in 3 isolates from sheep and C. cuniculus in 14 isolates from rabbits. All the Cryptosporidium species identified were zoonotic species with the exception of C. macropodum. Subtyping using the 5' half of gp60 identified C. hominis IbA10G2 (n = 12) and IdA15G1 (n = 2) in kangaroo faecal samples; C. hominis IbA10G2 (n = 4) and C. parvum IIaA18G3R1 (n = 4) in cattle faecal samples, C. ubiquitum subtype XIIa (n = 1) in sheep and C. cuniculus VbA23 (n = 9) in rabbits. Additional analysis of a subset of samples using primers targeting conserved regions of the MIC1 gene and the 3' end of gp60 suggests that the C. hominis detected in these animals represent substantial variants that failed to amplify as expected. The significance of this finding requires further investigation but might be reflective of the ability of this C. hominis variant to infect animals. The finding of zoonotic Cryptosporidium species in these animals may have important implications for the management of drinking water catchments to minimize risk to public health.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0168169
    Number of pages18
    JournalPLoS One
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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