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In Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)

Cryptosporidium and Giardia are important parasites due to their zoonotic potential and impact on human health, often causing waterborne outbreaks of disease. Detection of (oo)cysts in water matrices is challenging and few countries have legislated water monitoring for their presence. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence and origin of these parasites in different water sources in Northern Greece and identify interactions between biotic/abiotic factors in order to develop risk-assessment models. During a 2-year period, using a longitudinal, repeated sampling approach, 12 locations in 4 rivers, irrigation canals, and a water production company, were monitored for Cryptosporidium and Giardia, using standard methods. Furthermore, 254 faecal samples from animals were collected from 15 cattle and 12 sheep farms located near the water sampling points and screened for both parasites, in order to estimate their potential contribution to water contamination. River water samples were frequently contaminated with Cryptosporidium (47.1%) and Giardia (66.2%), with higher contamination rates during winter and spring. During a 5-month period, (oo)cysts were detected in drinking-water (<1/litre). Animals on all farms were infected by both parasites, with 16.7% of calves and 17.2% of lambs excreting Cryptosporidium oocysts and 41.3% of calves and 43.1% of lambs excreting Giardia cysts. The most prevalent species identified in both water and animal samples were C. parvum and G. duodenalis assemblage AII. The presence of G. duodenalis assemblage AII in drinking water and C. parvum IIaA15G2R1 in surface water highlights the potential risk of waterborne infection. No correlation was found between (oo)cyst counts and faecal-indicator bacteria. Machine-learning models that can predict contamination intensity with Cryptosporidium (75% accuracy) and Giardia (69% accuracy), combining biological, physicochemical and meteorological factors, were developed. Although these prediction accuracies may be insufficient for public health purposes, they could be useful for augmenting and informing risk-based sampling plans.

Ligda Panagiota, Claerebout Edwin, Kostopoulou Despoina, Zdragas Antonios, Casaert Stijn, Robertson Lucy J, Sotiraki Smaragda


Contamination source, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Modelling, Public health risk, Surface/drinking water