Cryptosporidium and Giardia detection in water bodies of Galicia, Spain.

Research paper by José Antonio JA Castro-Hermida, Ignacio I García-Presedo, Marta M González-Warleta, Mercedes M Mezo

Indexed on: 03 Aug '10Published on: 03 Aug '10Published in: Water Research


The objective of this study was to determine the mean concentration (per litre) of Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts in recreational river areas (n = 28), drinking water treatments plants (DWTPs; n = 52) and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs; n = 50) in Galicia (NW Spain). Water samples from rivers and from the influent (50-100 l) and the treated effluent (100 l) of the water plants were filtered using Filta-Max filters (IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., Westbrook, ME, USA). A total of 232 samples were processed and the (oo)cysts were concentrated, clarified by IMS and then detected by IFAT. The viability was determined by applying fluorogenic vital dye (PI). In the recreational areas, infective forms of Cryptosporidium and Giardia were detected in 16 (57.1%; 1-60 oocysts per litre) and 17 (60.7%; 1-160 cysts per litre) samples, respectively. In the water flowing into the water treatment plants, oocysts were detected in 21 DWTPs (40.4%; 1-13 oocysts per litre) and cysts were observed in 22 DWTPs (42.3%; 1-7 cysts per litre). In the effluents from the treatment plants, Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts were identified in 17 DWTPs (32.7%; 1-4 oocysts per litre) and in 19 DWTPs (36.5%; 1-5 cysts per litre), respectively. The highest concentrations of (oo)cysts were found in the WWTPs; specifically, oocysts were detected in 29 (58.0%; 1-80 oocysts per litre) and cysts in 49 (98.0%; 2-14.400 cysts per litre) WWTP effluents. Cryptosporidium and Giardia were detected in 32 (64.0%; 1-120 oocysts per litre) and 48 (96.0%; 2-6.000 cysts per litre) WWTP effluents, respectively. The percentage viability of the (oo)cysts ranged between 90.0% and 95.0%. In all samples analysed. Moreover, it was found that the effluents from coastal WWTPs were discharged directly into the sea, while inland WWTPs were discharged directly into rivers. The concentrations of both enteropathogens detected in effluents from WWTPs therefore represent a significant risk to human and animal health. These results demonstrate the wide distribution of Cryptosporidium and Giardia in the environment, the ineffectiveness of treatments in DWTPs and WWTPs in reducing/inactivating both protozoa and the need to monitor the presence, viability and infectivity of Cryptosporidium and Giardia in water bodies. In conclusion, the findings suggest the need for better monitoring of water quality and identification of sources of contamination.