The purpose of this study was to determine whether gamma-irradiated Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts could elicit protective immunity against cryptosporidiosis in dairy calves. Cryptosporidium parvum Iowa strain oocysts (1 × 106 per inoculation) were exposed to various levels of gamma irradiation (350–500 Gy) and inoculated into 1-day-old dairy calves. The calves were examined daily for clinical signs of cryptosporidiosis, and fecal samples were processed for the presence of C. parvum oocysts. At 21 days of age, the calves were challenged by oral inoculation with 1 × 105 C. parvum oocysts and examined daily for oocyst shedding and clinical cryptosporidiosis. Calves that were inoculated with C. parvum oocysts exposed to 350– 375 Gy shed C. parvum oocysts in feces. Higher irradiation doses (450 or 500 Gy) prevented oocyst development, but the calves remained susceptible to C. parvum challenge infection. Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts exposed to 400 Gy were incapable of any measurable development but retained the capacity to elicit a protective response against C. parvum challenge. These findings indicate that it may be possible to protect calves against cryptosporidiosis by inoculation with C. parvum oocysts exposed to 400-Gy gamma irradiation.

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