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Methods Mol Biol. 2004;268:163-76.

Detection and differentiation of Cryptosporidium oocysts in water by PCR-RFLP.

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Division of Parasitic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Consumption of contaminated water has been implicated as a major source of Cryptosporidium infection in various outbreak investigations and case control studies. Surveys conducted in various regions of the United States demonstrated the presence of Cryptosporidium oocysts in 67-100% of wastewaters, 24-100% of surface waters, and 17-26.8% of drinking waters. The identity and human infective potential of these waterborne oocysts are not known, although it is likely that not all oocysts are from human-infecting Cryptosporidium species. Likewise, the source of the oocyst contamination is also not fully clear. Farm animals and human sewage discharge are generally considered to be the major sources of surface water contamination with C. parvum. Because Cryptosporidium infection is common in wildlife, it is conceivable that wildlife can also be a source for Cryptosporidium oocysts in waters. The presence of host-adapted Cryptosporidium spp. and genotypes makes it possible to develop molecular tools to assess the human infection potential and source of Cryptosporidium oocysts in water.Currently, the identification of Cryptosporidium oocysts in environmental samples is largely made by the use of immunofluorescent assay (IFA) after concentration processes (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] recommended information collection rule [ICR] method or method 1622/1623 or similar techniques). Because IFA detects oocysts from all Cryptosporidium parasites, the species distribution of Cryptosporidium parasites in environmental samples cannot be assessed. Although many surface water samples contain Cryptosporidium oocysts, it is unlikely that all these oocysts are from human-pathogenic species or genotypes, because only five genotypes of Cryptosporidium parasites (the C. parvum human and bovine genotypes, C. meleagridis, C. canis, and C. felis) are responsible for most human infections. Information on the source of C. parvum contamination is necessary for effective evaluation and selection of management practices for reducing C. parvum contamination of surface water and the risk of cryptosporidiosis. Thus, identification of oocysts to species and genotype levels is of public health importance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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