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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Aug;73(16):5083-7. Epub 2007 Jun 15.

Effectiveness of standard UV depuration at inactivating Cryptosporidium parvum recovered from spiked Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas).

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  • 1Centre for Molecular Biosciences, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Cromore Road, Coleraine, Northern Ireland BT52 1SA.


When filter-feeding shellfish are consumed raw, because of their ability to concentrate and store waterborne pathogens, they are being increasingly associated with human gastroenteritis and have become recognized as important pathogen vectors. In the shellfish industry, UV depuration procedures are mandatory to reduce pathogen levels prior to human consumption. However, these guidelines are based around more susceptible fecal coliforms and Salmonella spp. and do not consider Cryptosporidium spp., which have significant resistance to environmental stresses. Thus, there is an urgent need to evaluate the efficiency of standard UV depuration against the survival of Cryptosporidium recovered from shellfish. Our study found that in industrial-scale shellfish depuration treatment tanks, standard UV treatment resulted in a 13-fold inactivation of recovered, viable C. parvum oocysts from spiked (1 x 10(6) oocysts liter (-1)) Pacific oysters. Depuration at half power also significantly reduced (P < 0.05; ninefold) the number of viable oocysts recovered from oysters. While UV treatment resulted in significant reductions of recovered viable oocysts, low numbers of viable oocysts were still recovered from oysters after depuration, making their consumption when raw a public health risk. Our study highlights the need for increased periodic monitoring programs for shellfish harvesting sites, improved depuration procedures, and revised microbial quality control parameters, including Cryptosporidium assessment, to minimize the risk of cryptosporidiosis.

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