Cryptosporidiosis is an emerging disease in reptiles. In past years, prevalence of this protozoal infection has risen, increasing the need for practical methods of diagnosis and therapy. Some methods for diagnosing mammalian cryptosporidiosis can be adopted for use in reptiles and some cannot.
In a long-term study, fecal samples from 30 infected geckos of the species Eublepharis macularius were tested with various methods such as immunofluorescence, coproantigen ELISA (ProSpecT®, Remel), PCR, immunochromatographic strip tests (Crypto-Strip, CORIS BioConcept) and carbol-fuchsin stain. These individuals were kept under identical quarantine conditions and treated with different medications, including azithromycin, spiramycin, metronidazole, nitazoxanide, paromomycin and preparations containing colostral antibodies or herbal extracts (thymol and creosote).
In combination with a direct detection technique (carbol-fuchsin stain) the ELISA has proven to be a sensitive diagnostic test which can be performed in a clinical practice setting. These results correlate with results from prior studies.1-3 According to the manufacturer’s statements this ELISA can detect 20 ng/ml of cryptosporidium specific antigen (CSA). Other methods were ineffective and/or demanding unusual equipment. Results from the PCR evaluation are pending.
Most drugs used were ineffective towards the elimination of the parasites. Paromomycin (100 mg/kg for 7 days then once every 7 days) did show effectiveness in resolving clinical symptoms and caused negative testing of fecal samples. If treatment with paromomycin was not continued, fecals were positive after 6 weeks and symptoms recurred. Individuals treated with the other named agents including nitazoxanide (25 mg/kg for 7 or 28 days) remained positive for Cryptosporidium. Results from treatments with high doses of nitazoxanide including the blood chemistry assay for measuring renal pathologic side effects are pending.
With further study of cryptosporidiosis and evaluation of available diagnostics, treatment regimes, and disinfection methods, a standard regime for managing cryptosporidiosis can be developed. A useful web site on Cryptosporidia can be found at www.cryptosporidien.de with English translation.
1. Cranfield MR, Graczyk T, Wright K, Frye FL, Raphael B, Garner M. Cryptosporidiosis. Bull Assoc Reptile Amphibian Vet. 1999;9:15–24.
2. Pantchev N, Rüschoff B, Kramhuber-Pohl A, Biron K. Kryptosporidiose-Therapie bei Leopardgeckos (Eublepharis macularius) mit Azithromycin (Zithromax®) und Paromomycinsulfat (Humatin®)—Fallbeispiele und Literaturübersicht. Kleintierpraxis. 2008;53, 2:95–104.
3. Parisi MT, Tierno PM. Evaluation of new rapid commercial enzyme immunoassay for detection of Cryptosporidium oocysts in untreated stool specimens. J Clin Microbiol. 1995:1963–1965.