Cryptosporidia are regularly detected during routine coprologic screenings of healthy bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps). The objectives of this study were to histologically characterize infections by Cryptosporidium sp. in bearded dragons and to evaluate the effect of paromomycin treatment in bearded dragons infected by Cryptosporidium sp. Ten four-month-old bearded dragons were initially infected with an isolate of Cryptosporidium sp. that was acquired from a naturally infected adult bearded dragon. The infection was confirmed in both groups by coprologic examination. The infected animals were then divided into two groups: a treatment group and a control group. Oral treatment with paromomycin began seven weeks after infection in the treatment group using the following regimens: 100 mg/kg q 24 h for seven days; then twice a week for six weeks; and 360 mg/kg q 48 h during the final 10 days of the study. Cryptosporidia were only detected in the intestinal lumens in the non-treated lizards. None of the treated lizards showed evidence of cryptosporidia excretion on either coprologic or histopathological examination. This finding suggests that the treatment with paromomycin was effective. All bearded dragons from both groups remained fully asymptomatic. Nevertheless, because of the highly contagious nature of these parasites and the pathogenicity to species that may be housed in the vicinity of asymptomatic carriers, and because a possible pathogenic effect for immunocompromised bearded dragons cannot be ruled out, treatment of infected bearded dragons remains a recommended practice.
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