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Parasitol Res. 2003 Jan;89(1):1-5. Epub 2002 Aug 21.

Comparison of tests for viable and infectious Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts.

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Animal Waste Pathogen Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA.


The purpose of this study was to compare different assays for viable Cryptosporidium parvum incubated in water at a temperature commonly found in the environment. C. parvum oocysts were stored in sterile water for 9 months at 15 degrees C. A sample was removed monthly and analyzed by five different assays to determine oocyst viability. Mouse infection and cell culture showed that C. parvum oocysts remained viable and infectious when stored for 7 months at this temperature. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using probes directed to ribosomal RNA was also applied to these oocysts. The proportion of FISH-positive oocysts was 70-80% for the first 2 months of storage, decreased and remained nearly constant at 40-50% for 3-7 months, then decreased to 20% by 8 months, and to 0% by 9 months. Amylopectin content and mRNA for amyloglucosidase (CPAG), as measured by RT-PCR, decreased much more rapidly. By 3 months and for the remainder of the incubation period, amylopectin content was 20% of the original amount present in the oocysts. The CPAG RT-PCR signal at 3 months was 50% of that observed after 1 month storage, 20% at 4 months, and was not detected thereafter. Thus, results from cell culture and mouse infection assay exhibited the best agreement, the FISH assay showed modest agreement with these assays, and CPAG RT-PCR and the amylopectin assay displayed marginal agreement with the other three assays.

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