Presence and molecular characterisation of Giardia and Cryptosporidium in alpacas (Vicugna pacos) from Peru

Hipólito Gómez-Couso, Luis M. Ortega-Mora, Adriana Aguado-Martínez, Raúl Rosadio-Alcántara, Lenin Maturrano-Hernández, Luis Luna-Espinoza, Víctor Zanabria-Huisa, Susana Pedraza-Díaz

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21 Scopus citations


The presence of Giardia and Cryptosporidium was investigated in 274 faecal samples of alpacas (Vicugna pacos) from 12 herds from Peru by immunofluorescence microscopy and PCR amplification and sequencing of fragments of the ssu-rRNA and β-giardin genes from Giardia spp., as well as the ssu-rRNA gene from Cryptosporidium spp. A total of 137 samples (50.0%) were positive for Giardia spp., and 12 samples (4.4%) for Cryptosporidium spp. In ten samples (3.6%), co-infection by both pathogens was found. Herd prevalence was found to be 91.7% (11/12 herds) for Giardia and 58.3% (7/12 herds) for Cryptosporidium. Regarding the age of the animals, although Giardia was detected in animals as young as 1 week, the prevalence increased with age, reaching 80% by 8 weeks. Similarly, the highest percentage of Cryptosporidium detection (20%) was also found in the 8 week-old group. By PCR, 92 of the 274 analysed samples were positive for Giardia. Sequencing of the amplicons showed the existence of Giardia duodenalis assemblage A in 67 samples; G. duodenalis assemblage E in 24 samples; and inconsistent results between the two molecular markers used in a further sample. Cryptosporidium was only detected by PCR in 3 of the 274 samples; Cryptosporidium parvum was identified in two samples and Cryptosporidium ubiquitum in one sample. This study is the first performing molecular characterisation of both parasites in Peruvian alpacas, and the first report of C. ubiquitum in this host. The identification of G. duodenalis assemblage A, C. parvum and C. ubiquitum, suggests that zoonotic transmission of these enteropathogens between alpacas and humans is possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-420
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 6 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
HG-C is funded by USC through the Programme Angeles Alvariño of Xunta de Galicia (Government of the Autonomous Region of Galicia). For this specific study, HG-C was awarded a mobility grant by Xunta de Galicia and the European Social Fund. We would like to thank the Centro de Investigaciones de la Raya, University of the Altiplano-Puno for enabling the sample collection and Karol Guzmán and Jorge Maximiliano for their help and assistance. We also thank Dr. Jane Wheeler for the careful reading of this manuscript and helpful comments.


  • Cryptosporidium
  • Giardia
  • Immunofluorescence microscopy
  • Molecular characterisation
  • Peru
  • Vicugna pacos


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