Cryptosporidium in calves is caused by a parasite called Cryptosporidium parvum and is usually seen in calves less than six weeks old.
Calves become infected by ingesting the oocytes (eggs) that reside in the environment in bedding, pasture, soil and drinking water. Symptoms include diarrhoea, dehydration, loss of appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Currently there is no vaccine available and treatment options are limited. It is important that calves suffering from the disease are isolated and remain so for at least one week after the scouring has stopped.
Rehydration of calves is key for survival and feeding one to two litres of oral electrolytes two to four times a day is recommended.
Halocurâ is the only product licensed in New Zealand for treatment of calves. It does not cure the disease and helps to reduce clinical signs and egg shedding. It is important to note it cannot be used in dehydrated animals and can be toxic if overdosed.
Incidences can be reduced through good hygiene and animal management. Ensure all dried faeces are removed from all surfaces and that they are washed with an effective disinfectant.