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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Therapeutic Efficacy of Hyperimmune Bovine Colostrum Treatment Against Clinical and Subclinical Cryptosporidium Serpentis Infections in Captive Snakes

item Graczyk, T - JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV
item Cranfield, M - THE BALTIMORE ZOO
item Helmer, P - THE BALTIMORE ZOO
item Bostwick, E - GALAGEN, INC.

Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 8, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Technology for the development of hyperimmune bovine colostrum for treatment of cryptosporidiosis was transferred to Galagen Corp. for commercial development of a product to treat infected persons. The present study demonstrates that this product is also useful for treatment of rare and expensive reptiles in herpetologic collections for reptilian cryptosporidiosis.

Technical Abstract: Therapy based on the protective passive immunity of hyperimmune bovine colostrum (raised against Cryptosporidium parvum in dairy cows immunized during gestation) was tested for heterologous efficacy in subclinical and clinical infections of 12 captive snakes with C. serpentis. Six gastric colostrum treatments of 1% snake weight at 1-wk-intervals each, have histologically cleared C. serpentis in 3 subclinically infected snakes, and regressed gastric histopathological changes in 1 of these snakes. In all snakes, each subsequent colostrum treatment significantly decreased the number of oocysts recovered in gastric lavage eluants (P < 0.03). The treatments induced oocyst-negative gastric eluants and stools in all snakes, and improved clinical signs of infection. Clinically infected snakes displayed severe histopathological changes in the gastric region; however, the numbers of developmental stages of Cryptosporidium were moderate. Considering the severity of pathology, much lower than expected pathogen numbers were observed, and it is believed that clinically infected snakes did not have enough time to repair tissue damage that had occurred over the years of infection. As the bovine colostrum treatment was safe and highly efficacious, it is recommended to gastrically apply the bovine hyperimmune colostrum therapeutically to snakes that are clinically or subclinically infected with C. serpentis, or to use the colostrum in snake supportive therapy of prophylaxis.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015