Cryptosporidiosis is an emerging problem in reptile medicine and has been associated with a wasting syndrome in leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius). This study determined the prevalence of infection in a breeding colony of leopard geckos to be 9.8%. Two groups of 20 geckos, one that was fecal positive for oocysts of Cryptosporidium sp., and one, whose individuals were fecal negative at the inception of the study, were followed for 2 mo. Fecal samples were tested for oocysts every 2 wk, body weights were measured, and a body condition score was assigned for each gecko. Selected geckos from these two groups were euthanized and necropsied. There were statistically significant differences (P < 0.05) between the two groups for mean body weight, mean body condition score, and prevalence of infection. Cryptosporidium sp. infection is endemic in this breeding colony, and there were a large number of geckos with a subclinical or carrier state of infection. These animals continued to be infected with Cryptosporidium sp. but gained weight and remained in good body condition. Only one gecko in the entire group of 40 was confirmed to be negative for oocysts or developmental stages by repeated fecal exams and histopathology. An additional 37 severely emaciated geckos from the breeding colony were euthanized, and all were positive for Cryptosporidium sp. on histopathologic examination of the gastrointestinal tract. The results of this study indicate that although some animals can recover from a clinical infection, if a gecko is severely wasted, it should be euthanized because of the poor prognosis and possible source of infection to other geckos.
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Vol. 39 • No. 4