Publication Details

Ongerth, J. E. & Stibbs, H. H. (1987). Identification of Cryptosporidium oocysts in river water. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 53 (4), 672-676.


Water samples were collected from four rivers in Washington State and two rivers in California and examined for the presence of Cryptosporidium oocysts. Oocyst-sized particles were concentrated from 20-liter samples of water by membrane filtration, centrifugation, and differential sedimentation. The particle concentrate was then deposited on a 25-mm-diameter membrane filter for oocyst identification by indirect immunofluorescence assay. The identification procedure had a limit of detection of about five oocysts per liter. Cryptosporidium oocysts were found in each of 11 river water samples examined. Concentrations ranged from 2 to 112 oocysts per liter. The finding of Cryptosporidium oocysts in all samples examined from six western rivers is noteworthy in light of recent reports indicating that Cryptosporidium sp. is a significant agent of human and animal disease. This finding suggests that waterborne oocysts of this parasite are more important than was previously recognized. More detailed studies are needed to define geographical and temporal distribution, to assess the viability of waterborne oocysts, and to determine the importance of water as a means of transmission.