A national survey was conducted to evaluate the prevalence of Cryptosporidium sp. in alpacas 1 to 15 days-old of age (crias) in 105 Andean herds. Stool samples of 5,163 randomly selected crias from 7 representative geographical regions of Peru were screened using acid fast staining microscopy. Ninety percent of ~2.9 milllion Peruvian alpacas are raised in these areas. Data on geographical characteristics and husbandry practices by region were also collected. Prevalence was determined by study areas and by age (five categories set at three-day intervals). Cryptosporidium sp. was detected in crias from all 7 regions. The overall prevalence was 13%, ranging from 7 to 23% per region. Prevalence was 2% in the youngest and showed an increasing trend by age, reaching 20% in crias 12-15 days old. These oldest crias were more likely to have cryptosporidiosis (OR=2.2, p<0.01). Infections with Cryptosporidium were also significantly associated with low availability of grazing grounds and overcrowding at birth (p<0.01). This study demonstrates that Cryptosporidium is a frequent pathogen in Andean alpaca crias, and suggest that cryptosporidiosis may play a significant role in the alpaca neonatal diarrhea complex that causes significant morbidity and mortality among crias.

Keywords: Cryptosporidium, Cryptosporidiosis, Alpacas, Neonatal diarrhea.
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