Giardia and Cryptosporidium infections were diagnosed by immunofluorescence assay on two Ohio dairy farms with calf diarrhea problems. On the first farm, all nine diarrheic calves sampled once in June had Giardia cysts in their feces. On the second farm, all five diarrheic calves examined at the beginning of the diarrhea outbreak in March had Giardia infection. When resampled, the overall infection rate of normal and diarrheic calves was 82.4% in April, and 40.0% in August after the diarrhea subsided. Positive calves ranged from 11 to 164 days of age, and 22.2% of them were as young as 1 to 3 weeks of age. Eight of nine diarrheic calves (88.8%) on the first farm had Cryptosporidium infection. Lower infection rates (<30%) were found on the second farm. Six of 10 positive calves were 11–22 days old, three were 164–177 days old, and one was 71 days old. Five of these 10 positive calves were also positive for Giardia infection.
Five diarrheic calves on the northern Ohio farm and one diarrheic calf on the central Ohio farm were treated with metronidazole after failing to respond to antibiotic therapy. Clinical improvement was observed in all calves within 48 h after the start of treatment. The high Giardia infection rates and intensities in calves of a wide age range and the clinical response to metronidazole suggest that Giardia infection contributed to the outbreaks of diarrhea.