Cryptosporidiosis has been reported as an important cause of neonatal diarrhea and mortality in cattle, sheep, and other ruminants, but its impact on alpaca health has not been studied thoroughly. In this study, we have determined the prevalence and evaluated the role of cryptosporidiosis as a risk factor for diarrhea occurrence in newborn alpacas. During the calving season (January–March) of 2006, stool specimens (N = 1312) were collected from 24 herds of newborn alpacas in Puno and Cuzco, departments that account for the largest populations of alpacas in Peru. All the specimens were microscopically screened for Cryptosporidium spp. using the acid-fast technique. The association between Cryptosporidium detection and diarrhea was analyzed using χ2 test and generalized lineal model. Cryptosporidium species were determined by PCR-RFLP analysis of the small subunit rRNA gene. Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected in 159 of 1312 (12.4%) newborn alpacas. Results of the analyses demonstrated that crypstosporidiosis was significantly associated with diarrhea (PR = 3.84; CI95% 2.54–5.81; p < 0.0001). Only Cryptosporidium parvum was detected in the 153 Cryptosporidium-infected animals. Thus, there is an association of C. parvum infection with diarrhea in neonatal alpacas.
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