Cryptosporidium and Giardia as foodborne zoonoses.Vet Parasitol. 2007 Oct 21; 149(1-2):29-40.VP
Cryptosporidium and Giardia are major causes of diarrhoeal disease in humans, worldwide and are major causes of protozoan waterborne diseases. Both Cryptosporidium and Giardia have life cycles which are suited to waterborne and foodborne transmission. There are 16 'valid'Cryptosporidium species and a further 33+ genotypes described. Parasites which infect humans belong to the Giardia duodenalis "type", and at least seven G. duodenalis assemblages are recognised. Cryptosporidium parvum is the major zoonotic Cryptosporidium species, while G. duodenalis assemblages A and B have been found in humans and most mammalian orders. In depth studies to determine the role of non-human hosts in the transmission of Cryptosporidium and Giardia to humans are required. The use of harmonised methodology and standardised and validated molecular markers, together with sampling strategies that provide sufficient information about all contributors to the environmental (oo)cyst pool that cause contamination of food and water, are recommended. Standardised methods for detecting (oo)cysts in water are available, as are optimised, validated methods for detecting Cryptosporidium in soft fruit and salad vegetables. These provide valuable data on (oo)cyst occurrence, and can be used for species and subspecies typing using appropriate molecular tools. Given the zoonotic potential of these organisms, epidemiological, source and disease tracking investigations involve multidisciplinary teams. Here, the role of the veterinarian is paramount, particularly in understanding the requirement for adopting comprehensive sampling strategies for analysing both sporadic and outbreak samples from all potential non-human contributors. Comprehensive sampling strategies increase our understanding of parasite population biology and structure and this knowledge can be used to determine what level of discrimination is required between isolates. Genetic exchange is frequent in C. parvum populations, leading to recombination between alleles at different loci, the generation of a very large number of different genotypes and a high level of resolution between isolates. In contrast, genetic exchange appears rare in Cryptosporidium hominis and populations are essentially clonal with far fewer combinations of alleles at different loci, resulting in a much lower resolution between isolates with many being of the same genotype. Clearly, more markers provide more resolution and high throughput sequencing of a variety of genes, as in multilocus sequence typing, is a way forward. Sub-genotyping tools offer increased discrimination, specificity and sensitivity, which can be exploited for investigating the epidemiology of disease, the role of asymptomatic carriers and contaminated fomites and for source and disease tracking for food and water contaminated with small numbers of (oo)cysts.