The Kill Crypto Research Project is a drug trial aimed at successfully treating cryptosporidium in leopard geckos. It is sponsored by The Lehigh Valley Zoo and gecko breeders around the world. Currently there is a research team of 2 veterinarians, Dr. Wenninger and Dr. Marks, and 3 certified vet techs (CVT) working on the project. Two of the CVT on staff are part time, and the head CVT is on site full time (Pat Kline). It is also important to note the research team donates their services.
Geckos for the project have been randomly donated from breeders nation-wide, and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests were done to see whether or not they already were carrying crypto. We also are doing period fecal samples to see what other internal parasites these geckos might be carrying. After doing the PCR test on all the geckos, we did find a couple that were asymptomatic and positive for crypto. From this point we have to systematically infect the healthy geckos in order to test the drug which is still unnamed for research reasons. The next step is to use different drug dosages and study the effect of the drug on crypto.
Where We Are Now
The project has been going on for a little over a year and we are at the stage where healthy geckos are being infected. We get to learn a lot about this nasty parasite, like: How long does it take to transmit to healthy individuals? How long does it take an infected individual to show clinical signs? What stressors may trigger a animal to show these clinical signs? We hope to find answers to many more questions as well. Even if the drug has no effect on the parasite there is much information to be gained.
Studies like this are very important to our community, for many reasons. For over 11 years in the hobby many reptile keepers would rather ignore this deadly parasite, than find answers. We do know a lot of about crypto, but there is still a lot more to learn. This is an issue we must embrace as a community in stead of shunning it. A large part of the study is being made possible by online auctions, where breeders from all over the country donate animals/services/ and supplies to benefit the study. Updates on the project, along with future auction dates, can be found at www.killcrypto.com and the kill crypto facebook page.