The present study was undertaken to characterize the oocyst morphology, host specificity, organ location, virulence, and sequences of the small subunit ribosomal RNA, 70-kDa heat shock protein, and oocyst wall protein genes of Cryptosporidium baileyi, and to compare this strain with other Cryptosporidium species. This study also aims to serve as a model for polyphasic (phenetic and genetic) characterization of Cryptosporidium species and strains. On the basis of these results, further genetic and phenetic characterization of an avian isolate is needed if the difference between the length or width, or both, of oocysts of an isolate and of C. baileyi is ≥10% or if the difference between the oocyst shape index of the isolate and of C. baileyi is ≥3% (or both). The isolate is infectious for mammals or lower vertebrates, or the host range is narrow, i.e., infectious only for some bird species; after oral or intratracheal inoculation, the parasites are not located in the cloaca and in the bursa of Fabricius or the respiratory tract; clinical disease or weight gain reduction can be observed after oral inoculation; the genetic distance for the examined gene between C. baileyi and the isolate is similar in magnitude to that observed between most closely related Cryptosporidium species.
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