In the present study, 90 coprolites from La Cueva de los Muertos Chiquitos (CMC) were subjected to enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests for 3 diarrhea-inducing protozoan parasites, Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia duodenalis, and Cryptosporidium parvum, to determine whether these parasites were present among the people who utilized this cave 1,200–1,400 yr ago. These people, the Loma San Gabriel, developed as a culture out of the Archaic Los Caracoles population and lived throughout much of present-day Durango and Zacatecas in Mexico. The Loma San Gabriel persisted through a mixed subsistence strategy of hunting-gathering and agricultural production. The results of ELISA testing were negative for both E. histolytica and G. duodenalis across all coprolites. A total of 66/90 (∼73% prevalence) coprolites tested positive or likely positive for C. parvum. The high prevalence of C. parvum among CMC coprolites contributes to our growing knowledge of the pathoecology among the Loma San Gabriel who utilized CMC. Herein, we report the successful recovery of C. parvum coproantigens from prehistoric coprolites. The recovery of these coproantigens demonstrates the existence of C. parvum in Mesoamerica before European contact in the 1400s.
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Vol. 102 • No. 4