Prevalence And Risk Factors Associated With Eimeria, Cryptosporidia, Strongyloides, And Giardia Infections In Calves In Smallholder Farms In Mukurwe-ini District, Nyeri County, Kenya
This study was undertaken to describe the prevalence and risk factors associated with occurrence of Eimeria, Cryptosporidia, Strongyloides and Giardia infections in calves in Mukurwe-ini District, Nyeri County. Mukurwe-ini District is one of the high agricultural potential areas in Kenya for dairy production, mainly among smallholder farms. A total of 112 newborn calves (63 males and 49 females) on 111 farms (1 farm had twins) who were members of Wakulima Dairy Ltd. were purposively selected for the study. They were followed up to 2 months of age between June 2013 and August 2013. A pre-tested questionnaire was used to collect data on the calf management practices in the 11 1 selected farms. On the first visit to the farm (within 7 days of birth of the calf), blood samples were collected from the jugular vein so as to assess the level of maternal immunity acquired by the calf, by testing for serum total protein and selenium. At 4 and 6 weeks of age, the fecal samples from the calves were collected to assess the presence of Cryptosporidia, Eimeria, Giardia, Strongyloides and other helminth eggs. Univariate regression was used to assess the association between each of the household and calf management factors and the occurrence of diarrhea (regardless of cause), Cryptosporidia, Eimeria, and Strongyloides infections. Factors that had a p value ≤ 0.20 were placed in a multivariate logistic regression model. Backward elimination was used to drop those factors that were not significant from the multivariate logistic model. Only factors with p value of ≤ 0.05 were considered significant and were left in the final model. Linear regression was used to assess association between the same household and calf management factors and average daily weight gain of the calves. The prevalence of the fecal parasites were 42.7%, 13.6%, 5.4% and (0%) for Eimeria, Cryptosporidia, Strongyloides and for Giardia, respectively. The prevalence of the parasites was not significantly different at 4 and 6 weeks of age. Thirty-seven percent of the calves experienced diarrhea at least once during the two-month study period. However, there was no significant association between the occurrence of Eimeria, Cryptosporidia and Strongyloides infections and diarrhea. Logistic regression showed that low serum protein levels (p=0.02) and (p=0.01) was positively associated with Eimeria and Cryptosporidia infection respectively. Lack of supervision of birth (p=0.02), low serum total protein (p<0.01) and longer membership duration at Wakulima Dairy Ltd. (p<0.01) were positively associated with diarrhea incidence risk. Linear regression showed that poor calf pen hygiene (p<0.01), feeding less than 5 liters of milk per day (p<0.01) and Eimeria infection negatively affected average daily weight gain of the calves. Due to the small number of cases of Strongyloides infection (n=6), regression analyses were uninformative. It is recommended that education to farmers be provided, on rearing of calves and especially proper colostrum management. Additionally, assessment of the prevalence of these parasites during different seasons and determination of more risk factors, especially those associated with zoonotic potential, will be useful.