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J Appl Microbiol. 2000 Jul;89(1):5-10.

Detection of cryptosporidia and Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in environmental water samples by immunomagnetic separation-polymerase chain reaction.

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CIRSEE, Lyonnaise des Eaux, Le Pecq, France.


Cryptosporidium parvum has emerged as one of the most important new contaminants found in drinking water. Current protocols for the detection of cryptosporidia are time-consuming and rather inefficient. We recently described an immunomagnetic separation-polymerase chain reaction (IMS-PCR) assay permitting highly sensitive detection of C. parvum oocysts in drinking water samples. In this study, a second IMS-PCR assay to detect all cryptosporidial oocysts was developed, and both IMS-PCR assays were optimized on river water samples. A comparative study of the two IMS-PCR assays and the classical detection method based on an immunofluorescence assay (IFA) was carried out on 50 environmental samples. Whatever the type of water sample, the discrepancy in C. parvum detection between the IFA and IMS-PCR took the form of IFA-negative/IMS-PCR-positive results, and was caused mainly by the greater sensitivity of IMS-PCR as compared with IFA. Of the 50 water samples, only five tested positive for C. parvum using IMS-PCR, and could constitute a threat to human health. These results show that both IMS-PCR assays provide a rapid (1 d) and sensitive means of screening environmental water samples for the presence of cryptosporidia and C. parvum oocysts.

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