The first study of molecular prevalence and species characterization of Cryptosporidium in free-range chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) from Brazil

Abstract Rearing free-range chicken is based on grazing feeding patterns, and these animals could be potential environmental contaminants of Cryptosporidium oocysts for humans and other animals. Therefore, the present study aimed to evaluate the molecular prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. in free-range chickens from Brazil. A total of 351 fecal samples from chickens were examined from 20 farms. For detection of Cryptosporidium spp., 18S rRNA gene fragments were amplified using a nested PCR reaction. Positive samples were sent for sequencing. The overall prevalence of Cryptosporidium was 25.6% (95% CI = 21.2% - 30.6%). Sequencing of the amplified fragments allowed for the identification of three species: C. meleagridis in 57 (62.6%), C. baileyi in 15 (16.4%), C. parvum in 3 (3.2%) samples, and a new Cryptosporidium genotype (C. genotype BrPR1) in 3 (3.2%) samples. Cryptosporidium genotype BrPR1 has not yet been classified as a species, and its host spectrum is not known. Cryptosporidium, including zoonotic species, exists at a high prevalence in free-range chickens within the region studied.