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Prevalence and characterisation of Cryptosporidium species in cattle faeces and on beef carcases at slaughter
  1. E. M. Moriarty, BSc,
  2. J.M. McEvoy, BSc, PhD,
  3. J. J. Sheridan, MA, MSc, PhD,
  4. G. Duffy, BSc, PhD1,
  5. C. J. Lowery, BSc, PhD,
  6. H. P. Thompson, BSc, MSc,
  7. M. Finn, BSc, MSc2,
  8. I. S. Blair, BSc, PhD and
  9. D. A. McDowell, CBiol, MBiol, PhD3
  1. 1 The National Food Centre, Teagasc, Ashtown, Dublin 15, Ireland
  2. 2 School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, County Londonderry BT52 1SA
  3. 3 Food Microbiology Research, NICHE, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Newtownabbey, County Antrim BT37 0QB
  1. Department of Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences, The Great Plains Institute of Food Safety, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, USA


Cattle are known reservoirs and asymptomatic excretors of Cryptosporidium, a protozoan parasite that causes severe and protracted diarrhoea in people. The incidence of Cryptosporidium was investigated in 288 matched samples taken from beef carcases of 1 g samples of faeces retrieved immediately after de-legging, 25 cm2 samples of beef excised from the rump of uneviscerated carcases, and 25 cm2 samples of beef excised from the brisket area of eviscerated carcases. Cryptosporidium species were detected in 21 of the faecal samples after salt flotation and immunofluorescent microscopy. The species isolated from the positive samples were identified by restriction fragment length polymorphism and PCR as Cryptosporidium andersoni (54˙5 per cent) and Cryptosporidium parvum genotype 2 (45˙5 per cent). In the faecal samples, there was a significantly higher prevalence of the parasite in samples taken in summer (May to July) and winter (November to January) than in spring or autumn. No Cryptosporidium species were recovered from any of the beef samples.

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