Summer is the season when many people from many different demographics head to their local public pools and water parks to beat the heat. People aren’t the only comers to these watery playgrounds. They bring their microbiome with them. This is why pools are often treated with chemicals like chlorine and bromine derivatives in order to guard against the spread of waterborne pathogens. One group of pathogens that is resistant to such commonly utilized disinfectants is Cryptosporidium.
Cryptosporidium is a genus of eukaryotic, unicellular parasites that causes cryptosporidiosis, a gastrointestinal disorder with symptoms including diarrhea. Cryptosporidiosis can even be fatal in those that are immunocompromised. Cryptosporidium have the ability to form tiny, nearly invisible cysts (oocysts) that are difficult to detect and destroy with standard water surveillance and treatment methods (CDC).
Cryptosporidium’s biological characteristics make it a public health hazard. According to the CDC, outbreaks of Cryptosporidium are on the increase. Cryptosporidium is not tested for routinely in most diagnostic labs. The need for a sensitive, specific, and accurate detection method for Cryptosporidium seems apparent.
CDC. 2015. Parasites-Cryptosporidium. Centers For Disease Control & Prevention.
Crawford, Chris. 2015. Cryptosporidiosis Outbreaks on the Rise, CDC Warns. American Academy of Family Physicians.
Rettner, Rachael. 2015. 'Crypto' Parasite Outbreaks Increasing in Pools Across US. LiveScience.