Molecular characterization of Cryptosporidium parvum detected in Japanese black and Holstein calves in Iwate Prefecture and Tanegashima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
Infectious diarrhea is the most frequent cause of morbidity and mortality in neonatal calves. Cryptosporidium parvum is one of the main pathogens associated with calf diarrhea. Although diarrhea is a symptom of infection with various pathogens, investigations to detect the types of pathogens have never been performed in Japan. This study investigated the prevalence of four major diarrhea-causing pathogens in calves: C. parvum, rotavirus, coronavirus, and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (E. coli K99). Commercial immunochromatography testing of all four pathogens and molecular analysis of C. parvum with diarrhea in calves from southernmost Okinawa and northernmost Hokkaido, Japan, were conducted. The frequencies of C. parvum, rotavirus, coronavirus, and E. coli (K99) in Okinawa were 50%, 28%, 2.3%, and 4.7%, respectively. Watery fecal stools were significantly correlated with C. parvum (p<0.05). In oocyst calculations for C. parvum, no significant difference was observed between the single-infection cases and the mixed-infection cases with rotavirus. Interestingly, molecular analyses targeting small subunit ribosomal RNA as well as glycoprotein 60 (GP60) genes revealed that the C. parvum nucleotide sequences from the two prefectures were identical, indicating that C. parvum with a uniform characteristic is distributed throughout Japan. GP60 subtyping analysis identified C. parvum from Okinawa and Hokkaido as belonging to the IIaA15G2R1 subtype, a known zoonotic subtype. Hence, control of cryptosporidiosis is important not only for pre-weaned calves, but also for human health.