Cryptosporidiosis is a highly infectious and robust protozoan parasite, which can cause dramatic health problems in young calves as well as being extremely costly. It affects young calves by attacking the inner lining of the intestinal tract causing inflammation and loss of the mucus lining. This reduces the absorptive capacity of the intestinal wall preventing optimal nutrients being absorbed from the digestate. Milk and hard feed intakes are likely to be inhibited which negatively impacts upon growth rates and calf health and thrift. A profuse watery, yellow/green diarrhoea often containing mucus which indicates the severe intestinal damage. Points of damage can provide access for concurrent harmful pathogens and bacteria to enter the bloodstream, exacerbating poor calf health further. Mortality rates ranging from 10-30% on farms with severe outbreaks and carried out by Dr Hannah Shaw showed direct losses amounted to £130 per calf.

A calf can shed millions of the extremely hardy oocysts which survive for years in sheds, on pasture and in water. Because of this, all penning and feeding equipment should be steam-cleaned thoroughly with a licensed disinfectant, which can penetrate the shell of the oocyst. Infected animals should be removed from the group, isolated and administered regularly with a quality oral electrolyte solution. This will help to prevent the infection spreading to other calves in the pen/building and allow the infected calf to receive the treatment that is required.

Essential is also providing the calf with the right amount of good quality colostrum, which will enhance the calf’s ability to withstand the pathological pressures of early life as effectively as possible.

Aside from good colostrum management and hygiene, there are few options available, Halofuginone lactate is licensed for the prevention and treatment of Crypto and there is the hope of a vaccine becoming available in the future. However, in the meantime we are exploring to help the farmer reduce the impact of Crypto. We already stock Kilcox one of the disinfectants with proven efficacy against Crypto oocysts and we have just introduced a product called Sangrovit produced and developed by Phytobiotics which through a specific mode of action within the digestive tract helps to reduce the effect of pathological challenges, and aids recovery times. Trials done on farm show the occurrence, duration and severity of diarrhoea cases have dramatically decreased after using this product.

Sally Cornforth R-SQP

Visit or speak to your W.E. Jameson advisor for more information.

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