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J Microbiol Methods. 1999 Feb;35(1):65-71.

Three sample preparation protocols for polymerase chain reaction based detection of Cryptosporidium parvum in environmental samples.

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Laboratory Services Division, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


Cryptosporidium parvum is a protozoan parasite responsible for an increasing number of outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness worldwide. In this report, we describe development of sample preparation protocols for polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based detection of C. parvum in fecal material and environmental water samples. Two of these methods were found adequate for isolation of Cryptosporidium DNA from filtered water pellet suspensions. The first involved several filtration steps, immunomagnetic separation and freeze-thaw cycles. The second method involved filtration, addition of EnviroAmp lysis reagent, freeze-thaw cycles and precipitation of the DNA with isopropanol. Using nested PCR, we detected 100 oocysts/ml of filtered water pellet suspension, with either of the above sample preparation procedures. Nested PCR increased sensitivity of the assay by two to three orders of magnitude as compared to the primary PCR. The detection limit for seeded fecal samples was 10-fold higher than for filtered environmental water pellet suspension. Nested PCR results showed 62.4 and 91.1% correlation with immunofluorescence assay (IFA) for fecal samples and filtered environmental water pellet suspensions, respectively. This correlation decreased to 47.2% and 44.4%, respectively, when only IFA positive samples were analyzed. However, in fecal samples contaminated with a high number (> 10(5)/g) of C. parvum oocysts, this correlation was 100%.

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