House flies (Musca domestica) as transport hosts of Cryptosporidium parvum.

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  • 1 Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Refuse and promiscuous-landing synanthropic filth flies, such as house flies (Musca domestica), are recognized as transport hosts for a variety of protozoan and metazoan parasites in addition to viral and bacterial pathogens of public health importance. Exposure of adult M. domestica to 20 ml of bovine diarrheal feces containing Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts (2.0 x 10(5) oocysts/ml) resulted in intense deposition of the oocysts through fly feces on the surfaces visited by the flies (mean = 108 oocysts/cm2). Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts were detected by immunofluorescent antibodies on the exoskeleton of adult flies and in their digestive tracts. An average of 267, 131, 32, 19, and 14 oocysts per adult fly were eluted from its exoskeleton on days 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 after they emerged, respectively. Approximately 320 C. parvum oocysts per pupa were eluted from the external surface of the pupae derived from maggots that breed in a substrate contaminated with the bovine feces; the oocysts were numerous on maggots (approximately 150 oocysts/maggot). Adult and larval stages of house flies breeding or having access to C. parvum-contaminated substrate will mechanically carry the oocysts in their digestive tracts and on their external surfaces.