Epidemiology and Infection

Zoonoses and animal infections

Prevalence and distribution of Cryptosporidium and Giardia in wastewater and the surface, drinking and ground waters in the Lower Rhine, Germany


a1 Laboratory for Medical and Molecular Parasitology, University of Cologne, Medical School, Centre of Anatomy, Institute II, Cologne, Germany

a2 Linksniederrheinische Entwässerungs-Genossenschaft (LINEG), Kamp-Lintfort, Germany

a3 Centre of Dental Medicine, Policlinic of Operative Dentistry and Periodontology, University of Cologne, Germany

a4 National Institute of Environmental Health, Department of Water Safety, Budapest, Hungary


Samples from different water sources (n = 396) were collected during 2009 and 2011. Wastewater (2–5 l) was purified by aluminium sulphate flocculation. Surface, ground and drinking waters (400–6400 l) were collected by filtration. Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts were further concentrated by sucrose centrifugation. (Oo)cysts were identified by IFT (immunofluorescence test), DAPI (4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) staining and DICM (difference interference contrast microscopy). Out of 206 wastewater samples, 134 (65·0%) were found to be positive for Giardia cysts and 64 (31·1%) for Cryptosporidium oocysts. Parasite numbers ranged from 0 to 2436 cysts/l and 0 to 1745 oocysts/l. Eight (4·2%) surface and drinking water samples (n = 190) were found to be positive for Giardia cysts (0–56000/100 l), and 18 (9·5%) for Cryptosporidium oocysts (2400/100 l). The purpose of this study was to establish the prevalence and concentrations of Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium spp. by detecting (oo)cysts from water samples. This study provides substantial evidence that G. lamblia cysts and Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts are able to enter and circulate in the aquatic environment with negative implications for public health.

(Received March 02 2012)

(Revised July 16 2012)

(Accepted August 13 2012)

(Online publication September 25 2012)

Key words

  • Cryptosporidium ;
  • Giardia lamblia ;
  • parasites;
  • water (safe);
  • water-borne infections