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Keywords:

  • Cryptosporidium;
  • Contamination;
  • Drinking water;
  • Protozoa;
  • Water quality

Abstract

Cryptosporidium is an enteric parasitic protozoan capable of causing chronic diarrhea. One of the most common modes of transmission is through faeces-contaminated water. This study determines the distribution of Cryptosporidium oocysts for the first time in Chennai City's drinking water supply. 199 drinking water samples were collected from ten zones of the city. In the water samples Cryptosporidium, a common pathogenic protozoan of the gastrointestinal tract, has been analyzed physico chemically as well as microbiologically for heterotrophic organisms and total coliforms (TC). The studies revealed that three zones of the city were highly contaminated with coliforms and parasitic protozoa. A statistical analysis was done to find any correlation between heterotrophic organisms, total coliforms, and oocysts. Even though a positive correlation exists between oocysts and bacteriological parameters, a regression equation shows that heterotrophic plate count (HPC) and total coliforms were only 20% responsible for the presence of oocysts. The level of Cryptosporidium oocysts isolated from the water samples may present a public health hazard although no major outbreaks have so far been reported in Chennai City. Routine surveillance of water quality throughout the city is needed to curb the pollutants.