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Prevalence and Genotypes of Cryptosporidium in Wildlife Populations Co-Located in a Protected Watershed in the Pacific Northwest, 2013 to 2016


Between October 2013 and May 2016, 506 scat samples were collected from 22 species of wildlife located in a protected watershed of a major municipal water supply in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Overall prevalence of Cryptosporidium in the wildlife scat was 13.8% (70/506), with 15 species of wildlife found positive for Cryptosporidium. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium varied among species of wildlife, with higher prevalences observed in cougars (50.0%), mountain beavers (40.0%), and bobcats (33.3%), but none of these species are riparian-dependent. Genotyping of Cryptosporidium by sequencing PCR amplicons from the 18S rRNA gene were successful for seven species of wildlife, including bobcat, unknown predator, black-tailed deer, deer mouse, snowshoe hare, mountain beaver, and western spotted skunk. BLAST and phylogenetic analyses indicated that multiple species and genotypes of Cryptosporidium were present, with some isolates possibly co-circulating within and between wildlife populations in this protected watershed. Evidence of oocyst exchange between infected prey and their predators was also found. During the study period, several zoonotic Cryptosporidium species and genotypes that are uncommon in humans were detected in bobcat (99.58% identical to Cryptosporidium felis), unknown predator (100% identical to Cryptosporidium canis), snowshoe hare (100% identical to Cryptosporidium sp. skunk genotype), and mountain beaver (100% identical to Cryptosporidium ubiquitum). Novel sequences were also found in mountain beaver. To our knowledge, this is the first published report of a unique genotype or species of Cryptosporidium in mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa).

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