Occurrence ofCryptosporidiumandGiardiagenotypes and subtypes in raw and treated water in Portugal

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Waterborne outbreaks of diarrhoeal illness reported worldwide are mostly associated with Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. Their presence in aquatic systems makes it essential to develop preventive strategies for water and food safety. This study was undertaken to monitor the presence of Cryptosporidium and Giardia in a total of 175 water samples, including raw and treated water from both surface and ground sources in Portugal.

Methods and Results:

The samples were processed according to USEPA Method 1623 for immunomagnetic separation (IMS) of Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts, followed by detection of oocysts/cysts by immunofluorecence (IFA) microscopy, PCR-based techniques were done on all water samples collected. Out of 175 samples, 81 (46·3%) were positive for Cryptosporidium and 67 (38·3%) for Giardia by IFA. Cryptosporidium spp. and G. duodenalis genotypes were identified by PCR in 37 (21·7%) and 9 (5·1%) water samples, respectively. C. parvum was the most common species (78·9%), followed by C. hominis (13·2%), C. andersoni (5·3%), and C. muris (2·6%). Subtype IdA15 was identified in all C. hominis-positive water samples. Subtyping revealed the presence of C. parvum subtypes IIaA15G2R1, IIaA16G2R1 and IIdA17G1. Giardia duodenalis subtype A1 was identified.


The results of the present study suggest that Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. were widely distributed in source water and treated water in Portugal. Moreover, the results obtained indicate a high occurrence of human-pathogenic Cryptosporidium genotypes and subtypes in raw and treated water samples.

Significance and Impact of the Study:

Thus, water can be a potential vehicle in the transmission of cryptosporidiosis, and giardiasis of humans and animals in Portugal.

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