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Can J Microbiol. 2002 Jun;48(6):530-41.

Prevalence of Giardia and Cryptosporidium and characterization of Cryptosporidium spp. isolated from wildlife, human, and agricultural sources in the North Saskatchewan River Basin in Alberta, Canada.

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Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, The University of Calgary, AB, Canada.


The environmental distribution of Giardia spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. is dependent upon human, agricultural, and wildlife sources. The significance of each source with regard to the presence of parasites in the environment is unknown. This 2-year study examined parasite prevalence in human sewage influent, wildlife, and agricultural sources associated with the North Saskatchewan River Basin in Alberta, Canada. Fecal samples were collected from cow-calf, dairy, and hog operations in the watershed area. Sewage-treatment facilities were sampled bimonthly during the 2-year study, and wildlife scat was collected at locations along tributaries of the North Saskatchewan River. All samples were analyzed for the presence of Giardia and Cryptosporidium, using sucrose-gradient separation followed by immunofluorescent microscopy. Giardia and Cryptosporidium were detected in all three sources. The lowest prevalence of both Giardia (3.28%) and Cryptosporidium (0.94%) was found in wildlife, with 6 of 19 species testing positive. Sewage influent had the highest prevalence of Giardia (48.80%) and Cryptosporidium parvum-like oocysts (5.42%); however, the concentration of both parasites was minimal compared with the concentration detected in cattle feces. Cow-calf sources contained the highest concentration of Giardia (mean 5800/g feces, P < 0.01), and dairy sources contained the highest concentration of C. parvum-like oocysts (mean 295/g feces, P < 0.01). Although prevalence and concentration are higher in cattle feces than in sewage, the Giardia and Cryptosporidium in animal manure do not have direct access to water draining into the North Saskatchewan River. PCR-based characterization of rDNA from isolates of Cryptosporidium collected from Alberta human, pig, calf, mature steer, dog, cat, and beaver hosts revealed distinct genetic differences that may reflect host specificity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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