Novel water treatments for zoonotic pathogen Cryptosporidium

Lead Research Organisation: CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
Department Name: School of Biosciences


Cryptosporidium is an apicomplexan waterborne enteric parasite, causing diarrhea in over 7.6 million children a year.

Self-limiting in the healthy individuals, often fatal in immunocompromised or malnourished, the disease claims over 200, 000 lives of under 2-year-olds per year only in developing countries. It is also a 'blue-marble' pathogen able to intrude into the developed world wherever breaches in surveillance or treatment of water supplies allow epidemics. With no treatment against it and no vaccine foreseeable in the near future, the only way to control Cryptosporidium is through water treatment. The transmissive stages, oocysts, are resistant to the classic chlorine treatment, and difficult to filter out of the water due to their small sizes. The only way treatment to inactivate them in drinking water is UV treatment, which also needs special equipment still missing in many treatment plants.

Given its impact, it is little wonder that Cryptosporidium is treated as a bioterrorism agent, and the European Water Directive insists on shutting down the distribution plants should the oocysts be found in drinking water. Finding effective, economically efficient way of eradicating parasite from water supplies could significantly reduce the of disease burden both, in developed and developing countries.


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