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Annu Rev Public Health. 1997;18:135-61.

Environmental ecology of Cryptosporidium and public health implications.

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Department of Marine Sciences, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg 33701, USA.


Cryptosporidium has become the most important contaminant found in drinking water and is associated with a high risk of waterborne disease particularly for the immunocompromised. There have been 12 documented waterborne outbreaks in North America since 1985; in two of these (Milwaukee and Las Vegas) mortality rates in the immunocompromised ranged from 52% to 68%. The immunofluorescence antibody assay (IFA) using epifluorescence microscopy has been used to examine the occurrence of Cryptosporidium in sewage (1 to 120 oocysts/liter), filtered secondary treated wastewater (0.01 to 0.13 oocysts/liter), surface waters (0.001 to 107 oocysts/liter), groundwater (0.004 to 0.922 oocysts/liter) and treated drinking water (0.001 to 0.72 oocysts/liter). New rules are being developed (Information Collection Rule and Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule) to obtain more occurrence data for drinking water systems for use with new risk assessment models. Public health officials should consider a communication program to physicians treating the immunocompromised, nursing homes, develop a plan to evaluate cases of cryptosporidiosis in the community, and contribute to the development of public policies that limit contamination of source waters, improve water treatment, and protect public health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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