The objective of this study was to assess the potential role that wildlife plays in environmental degradation of watersheds through the contamination of the water supply with zoonotic genotypes of Cryptosporidium. Cryptosporidium isolates recovered from wildlife in the New York City (NYC) watershed were examined to determine genotype using a polymerase chain reaction protocol targeting the 18-Small Subunit (SSU) rRNA locus. Seventy-seven DNA samples recovered from 12 wildlife host species captured in the NYC watershed were amplified and sequenced. Data on risk factors associated with the perpetuation of these genotypes also were collected and analyzed. Although many genotypes appeared to be host-specific, 38% of the samples examined were identified as Cryptosporidium parvum, indicating the presence of zoonotic Cryptosporidium. Adult animals were more likely to shed the zoonotic strains of Cryptosporidium spp. Animals captured in the fall and winter were more likely to be infected with C. parvum than those captured in spring and summer.
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Vol. 43 • No. 4