Cryptosporidium spp. in Leicester (UK): an update.




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Peer reviewed


Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis are considered opportunistic emerging human parasites that can severely affect immunocompromised patients and individuals worldwide for which an early stage diagnosis is critical for appropriate prognosis. Although these parasites have been related to serious outbreaks in the United Kingdom (UK), there is little information regarding their presence and distribution in urban and rural environments in the UK. Our research group is investigating the potential presence and distribution of human-related Cryptosporidium spp. parasites in Leicestershire (UK), after microscopically detecting oocysts of Cryptosporidium spp. in a dog faecal sample collected in a highly frequented public park in Leicester city centre in 2016 during a pilot study in which 27 topsoil and animal faecal samples were analysed. This positive sample was specifically tested for C. parvum using an ImmunoCard STAT!® assay, although with a negative result. A more comprehensive study was performed between Summer 2017 and Spring 2018, in which 209 animal faecal samples were collected from urban parks and recreational areas across Leicester city and surrounding rural areas in Leicestershire. A veterinarian confirmed animal species as: 142 avian (49 pigeon, 37 waterfowl, 23 songbird, 33 uncertain) 22 dog, 8 cat and 37 deer. Analysis of samples using specific Kinyoun's acid-fast staining for these coccidian parasites, revealed the presence of Cryptosporidium spp. in 17 (8.1%) of the monitored faecal samples, specifically in 7 deer, 8 avian and 2 dog stool samples. Oocysts, the infective forms of these zoonotic parasites, were observed in samples collected throughout this monitoring period, although a higher prevalence was detected in samples collected in Spring 2018, which might indicate a potential trend in their dispersion that should be studied to appropriately inform potential public health interventions to tackle their presence and distribution. Although our results are inconclusive, as determination of Cryptosporidium species is necessary to fully stablish whether there is any risk for the population in Leicestershire, wild and domestic animals could play a significant role in the maintenance and dispersion of these zoonotic parasites that require careful monitoring.



Cryptosporidium spp., Human health, Animal faeces, Leicester, Urban soils, Presence


Anjum U., Izquierdo F., Peña-Fernández A. Cryptosporidium spp. in Leicester (UK): an update. Royal Society of Biology East Midlands Branch Postgraduate Poster Symposium, Leicester, UK, 2nd May 2019.


Research Institute

Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)