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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Detection and molecular characterisation of Cryptosporidium spp. in Swedish pigs

Pettersson, Emelie; Ahola, Harri; Frossling, Jenny; Wallgren, Per; Troell, Karin


Background Cryptosporidiumis a genus of apicomplexan parasites that cause enteric disease in vertebrates. In pigs, infections are most often asymptomatic, but may result in diarrhoea and poor growth. The most common species detected in pigs areC. suisandC. scrofarumwith low zoonotic potential.C. parvum, with higher zoonotic potential, may also be found. As previous knowledge on the occurrence ofCryptosporidiumin Swedish pigs is scarce, this was investigated in our study. Faecal samples from 13 pig herds were collected and a total of 222 pooled pen samples, from suckling piglets (n = 48), growers, aged 6-12 weeks (n = 57), fatteners, aged 13-24 weeks (n = 67) and adult animals (n = 50) were included. Samples were analysed using microscopy and positive samples were further analysed using polymerase chain reaction and sequencing of the 18S rRNA gene and the 28S rRNA gene to determine species. Results Cryptosporidiumspp. were detected in all sampled herds and in 25% (56/222) of the individual pen samples. Infections were most common in growers and fatteners with 51% (29/57) and 35% (20/67) positive samples in each group, respectively. The piglets had 8% (4/48) positive samples and adults had 6% (3/50). Species determination showedC. suisandC. scrofarumin piglets and growers,C. scrofarumin the fatteners, andC. suisandC. parvumin the adults. Although no mixed infections could be confirmed we saw signs of double peaks in the 28S rRNA gene chromatograms, possibly indicating more than one species present per sample. Conclusion Cryptosporidiumspp. were detected on every sampled farm and in 25% of the individual pen samples in our study. We therefore conclude thatCryptosporidiumspp. are present and likely common in Swedish pig herds, where pigs are loose and reared on solid floors. However, none of the farms reported any problems with poor weight gain, diarrhoea, or reduced appetite in their pig herds. The pig adaptedC. suisandC. scrofarumwere the predominant species identified. Two samples were positive for the more zoonoticC. parvum, and pigs should hence not be disregarded as a possible source of zoonotic cryptosporidiosis.


18S rRNA; 28s rRNA; Cryptosporidiosis; C; parvum; C; scrofarum; C; suis; Genotyping; Parasite; Zoonosis

Published in

Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica
2020, volume: 62, number: 1, article number: 40
Publisher: BMC

Authors' information

National Veterinary Institute (SVA)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Ahola, Harri
Natl Vet Inst SVA
Frössling, Jenny
National Veterinary Institute (SVA)
National Veterinary Institute (SVA)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Troell, Karin
National Veterinary Institute (SVA)

UKÄ Subject classification

Clinical Science

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