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Sci Total Environ. 2004 Apr 5;321(1-3):47-58.

Cryptosporidium parvum oocyst inactivation in field soil and its relation to soil characteristics: analyses using the geographic information systems.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The need exists to understand the environmental parameters that affect inactivation of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in soil under field conditions. The inactivation of C. parvum oocysts placed in the natural environment was studied at a dairy farm in western New York State, USA. Seventy sampling points were arranged in a grid with points 150 m apart using the Geographic Information System. The sampling points were distributed among three distinct areas: woodland, corn field and pasture. Purified oocysts were inoculated into chambers filled with soil from each sampling point, and buried in the surface of each respective sampling point. To compare C. parvum oocyst survival with another organism known to survive environmental stresses, Ascaris suum eggs were also placed in soil contained in chambers and buried at the same sampling points as the oocysts. As controls oocysts and eggs in distilled water were also placed at each sampling point. Oocyst and egg viability, soil pH and percent gravimetric water content were measured at all sampling points at 0, 60 and 120 day sampling periods. Soil organic content was determined for each sampling point. At 120 days after placement, mean viability of C. parvum oocysts was 10% although at a few sampling points, 30% of oocysts were still potentially infective; whereas 90% of A. suum eggs were viable at all sampling points. Statistically significant differences were not observed among the three different sampling areas, and no statistically significant predictors were found by regression analysis. Results exemplified the heterogeneity of soil parameters and oocyst viability across a landscape; such results make predictive models for C. parvum inactivation problematical. The long-term survival of C. parvum oocysts in soil under field conditions, as this study demonstrated, emphasizes their potential as a risk to contaminate surface waters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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