International journal of environmental research and public health

Cryptosporidium and Giardia in surface water: a case study from Michigan, USA to inform management of rural water systems.

PMID 25317981


Cryptosporidium and Giardia pose a threat to human health in rural environments where water supplies are commonly untreated and susceptible to contamination from agricultural animal waste/manure, animal wastewater, septic tank effluents and septage. Our goals for this paper are to: (1) explore the prevalence of these protozoan parasites, where they are found, in what quantities, and which genotypes are present; (2) examine relationships between disease and land use comparing human health risks between rural and urban environments; and (3) synthesize available information to gain a better understanding of risk and risk management for rural water supplies. Our results indicate that Cryptosporidium and Giardia were more prevalent in rural versus urban environments based on the number of positive samples. Genotyping showed that both the human and animal types of the parasites are found in rural and urban environments. Rural areas had a higher incidence of disease compared to urban areas based on the total number of disease cases. Cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis were both positively correlated (p < 0.001) with urban area, population size, and population density. Finally, a comprehensive strategy that creates knowledge pathways for data sharing among multiple levels of management may improve decision-making for protecting rural water supplies.