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Animals Spread Parasite Eggs in Water Catchments

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A study of the prevalence of the Cryptosporidium in animals inhabiting 11 Australian water supply catchments has revealed higher than expected loads of the parasite’s eggs.

“Cattle, sheep, rabbits and kangaroos living in the area can shed faeces containing Cryptosporidium oocysts into raw water supply catchments, and so we were interested in understanding the sources, quantities and type of Cryptosporidium being shed by animals,” said Murdoch University PhD student Alireza Zahedi, who was lead author of the study published in Water Research (

“Cryptosporidium is one of the most common waterborne parasites throughout the world, causing gastroenteritis in humans, but there has been relatively little research on the levels of human-infectious Cryptosporidium shed by animals in Australian drinking water catchments,” Zahedi said.

“Cryptosporidium oocysts are shed into the environment in animal faeces but often don’t reach raw drinking water sources. If the eggs do enter raw drinking water sources, frequently they are no longer viable and therefore cannot cause infections. Despite this, the pathogen has been responsible for numerous waterborne outbreaks overseas and continues to represent a public health concern to water utilities in developed countries.”


The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.