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Molecular detection and genetic characterizations of Cryptosporidium spp. in farmed foxes, minks, and raccoon dogs in northeastern China

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Cryptosporidium spp. are common intestinal protozoa causing diarrhea in humans and a variety of animal species. With the recent development of fur industry, a large number of fur animals are farmed worldwide, especially in China. The existence of identical Cryptosporidium species/genotypes in humans and fur animals suggests zoonotic potential. In order to assess the presence of zoonotic Cryptosporidium species and/or genotypes in farmed fur animals, 367 fecal specimens were collected from 213 foxes, 114 minks and 40 raccoon dogs farmed in Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces, northeastern China, during the period from June 2014 to October 2016. By PCR and sequencing of the partial small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene of Cryptosporidium, 20 of 367 (5.4%) animal samples were found to be infected, corresponding to 12 of 213 fox samples (5.6%) and 8 of 114 mink samples (7.0%) screened. Three Cryptosporidium species/genotypes were identified: C. canis (n = 17), C. meleagridis (n = 1) and Cryptosporidium mink genotype (n = 2). Two host-adapted C. canis types (C. canis dog genotype and C. canis fox genotype) were found. By PCR and sequencing of the partial 60 kDa glycoprotein (gp60) encoding gene, one mink genotype isolate was successfully subtyped as XcA5G1R1. The three Cryptosporidium species/genotypes identified in this study have been previously reported in humans suggesting that fur animals infected with Cryptosporidium spp. may pose a risk of zoonotic transmission of cryptosporidiosis, especially for the people working in fur animal farming and processing industry.

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This work was supported by the Heilongjiang Province Education Bureau (No. 12531266)

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Correspondence to Aiqin Liu.

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Section Editor: Leonhard Schnittger

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Yang, Z., Zhao, W., Wang, J. et al. Molecular detection and genetic characterizations of Cryptosporidium spp. in farmed foxes, minks, and raccoon dogs in northeastern China. Parasitol Res 117, 169–175 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-017-5686-5

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  • Cryptosporidium
  • Genotyping
  • Subtyping foxes
  • Minks
  • Raccoon dogs