Cryptosporidium parvum and Enterocytozoon bieneusi in American Mustangs and Chincoteague ponies Public Deposited

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  • The prevalence of Cryptosporidium and microsporidia in feral horses, which have minimal contact with livestock and humans, is not currently known. We report the findings of a study on Cryptosporidium and microsporidia in 34 Mustangs and 50 Chincoteague ponies in the USA. Fecal samples were screened for presence of Cryptosporidium spp. by analysis of the small-subunit rRNA (SSU) and 60-kDa glycoprotein (gp60) genes, and Enterocytozoon bieneusi and Encephalitozoon spp. by analysis of the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer region (ITS). Cryptosporidium spp. and E. bieneusi were detected in 28/84 (33.3%) and 7/84 (8.3%) samples, respectively. Sequence analysis of SSU and ITS revealed the presence of Cryptosporidium parvum (n = 20) and E. bieneusi genotype horse 1 (n = 7), respectively. Subtyping of C parvum isolates at the gp60 locus showed the presence of subtype IIaA17G2R1 in Mustangs and subtypes IIaA13G2R1 and IIaA15G2R1 in Chincoteague ponies. Enterocytozoon bieneusi genotype horse 1 was detected in Mustangs (n = 2) and Chincoteague ponies (n = 5). No Cryptosporidium or E. bieneusi positive animals had diarrhea. The finding that Mustangs and Chincoteague ponies are host to the zoonotic pathogen C parvum suggests that their infrequent contact with humans and livestock is sufficient to maintain transmission; however, we should also consider the possibility that C parvum is an established parasite of Mustangs and Chincoteague ponies that persists in these animals independently of contact with humans or livestock.
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  • Wagnerová, P., Sak, B., McEvoy, J., Rost, M., Sherwood, D., Holcomb, K., & Kváč, M. (2016). Cryptosporidium parvum and Enterocytozoon bieneusi in American Mustangs and Chincoteague ponies. Experimental Parasitology, 162, 24-27. doi:10.1016/j.exppara.2015.12.004
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