Analysis of the Cryptosporidium spp. and gp60 subtypes linked to human outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis in England and Wales, 2009 to 2017

Rachel M. Chalmers*, Guy Robinson, Kristin Elwin, Richard Elson

*Corresponding author for this work

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    80 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Cryptosporidium spp. are important causes of gastroenteritis that can be transmitted from humans and animals. We elucidated the distribution of species and gp60 subtypes in human outbreaks classified by transmission vehicle. Methods: We used a combined database of national outbreak surveillance and reference unit data to analyse outbreaks by setting, vehicle, season, and linkage with suspected sources. Results: A total of 178 outbreaks involving 4031 laboratory confirmed cases were identified; 82 (46%) outbreaks involved recreational waters, 74 (42%) animal contact, 4 (2%) environmental contact, 4 (2%) person-to-person spread, 3 (2%) food, 2 (1%) drinking water supplies, and 9 (5%) were of unknown source. The infecting Cryptosporidium sp. was identified in 131 (74%) outbreaks; 69 were C. parvum, 60 C. hominis, and in two outbreaks cases were infected with either species. Animal contact, environmental contact, and food-borne outbreaks were exclusively C. parvum and were mainly in first half of the year. Recreational water outbreaks were predominantly C. hominis and were mainly in the second half of the year. Outbreaks attributed to person-to-person spread were exclusively C. hominis and all occurred in October. Both C. parvum and C. hominis caused drinking waterborne outbreaks. Gp60 subtypes were identified from patients in 48 C. parvum and 38 C. hominis outbreaks, revealing more subtypes among C. parvum (n = 14) than C. hominis (n = 7) outbreaks. Cryptosporidium hominis IbA10G2 predominated (30 outbreaks). Of C. parvum subtypes, IIaA15G2R1 predominated (17 outbreaks), followed by IIaA17G1R1 (12 outbreaks), IIaA19G1R1 (four outbreaks), and other subtypes caused three or fewer outbreaks each. Linkage between cases and suspected sources by gp60 subtype was established in nine animal contact, three swimming pool, and one drinking water outbreak. Conclusions: The public health benefit of identifying infecting species and subtypes was twofold: (i) identifying and strengthening epidemiologic links between cases; and (ii) indicating possible exposures and sources to inform outbreak management. Gp60 subtype refined the epidemiological investigations, but a multilocus genotyping scheme would provide further benefit. Characterisation of Cryptosporidium spp. and subtypes needs to shift from predominantly supporting outbreak investigations to becoming nationally systematic.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number95
    JournalParasites and Vectors
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2019 The Author(s).


    • Cryptosporidium hominis
    • Cryptosporidium parvum
    • Outbreak
    • Surveillance
    • gp60


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