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Foodborne Illness Associated with Cryptosporidium and Giardia from Livestock

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Waterborne outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium and Giardia are well documented, while the public health implications for foodborne illness from these parasites have not been adequately considered. Cryptosporidium and Giardia are common in domestic livestock, where young animals can have a high prevalence of infection, shedding large numbers of oocysts and cysts. Molecular epidemiological studies have advanced our knowledge on the distribution of Cryptosporidium and Giardia species and genotypes in specific livestock. This has enabled better source tracking of contaminated foods. Livestock generate large volumes of fecal waste, which can contaminate the environment with (oo)cysts. Evidence suggests that livestock, particularly cattle, play a significant role in food contamination, leading to outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis. However, foodborne giardiasis seems to originate primarily from anthroponotic sources. Foodborne cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are underreported because of the limited knowledge of the zoonotic potential and public health implications. Methods more sensitive and cheaper are needed to detect the often-low numbers of (oo)cysts in contaminated food and water. As the environmental burden of Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts from livestock waste increases with the projected increase in animal agriculture, public health is further compromised. Contamination of food by livestock feces containing Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts could occur via routes that span the entire food production continuum. Intervention strategies aimed at preventing food contamination with Cryptosporidium and Giardia will require an integrated approach based on knowledge of the potential points of entry for these parasites into the food chain. This review examines the potential for foodborne illness from Cryptosporidium and Giardia from livestock sources and discusses possible mechanisms for prevention and control.

Document Type: Review Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Health Management, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada C1A 4P3; Prince Edward Island Food Technology Centre, 101 Belvedere Avenue, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada C1A 7N8. 2: Department of Biomedical Sciences, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada C1A 4P3 3: Microbiology Research Division, Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Food Directorate, Health Canada, 251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0K9 4: Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1 5: Department of Health Management, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada C1A 4P3

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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