We report the detection and identification of Cryptosporidium and Giardia from 1 of 3 species of pinnipeds. Fecal samples were collected from Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi), northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) in the northern California coastal area. By means of fluorescently labeled monoclonal antibodies, Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected in 3 samples from California sea lions, 1 of which also contained Giardia cysts. Oocysts of Cryptosporidium and cysts of Giardia were morphologically indistinguishable from oocysts of C. parvum and cysts of G. duodenalis from other animal origins. Oocysts and cysts were then purified using immunomagnetic separation techniques and identified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), from which species-specific products were obtained. Sequence analysis revealed that the 452-bp and 358-bp PCR products of Cryptosporidium isolated from California sea lion had identities of 98% with sequences of their template fragments of C. parvum obtained from infected calves. Based on morphological, immunological, and genetic characterization, the isolates were identified as C. parvum and G. duodenalis, respectively. The findings suggested that California sea lions could serve as reservoirs in the environmental transmission of Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

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