Saturday, 29 August 2015

Cryptosporidium discovery at water treatment plant leaves around 300 000 without drinkable water in Lancashire, England.

Around 300 000 homes were left without drinkable water after the parasitic microorganism Cryptosporidium was discovered at the United Utilities operated Franklaw Water Treatment Plant near Preston in Lancashire, northwest England, on Thursday 6 August 2015. The parasite, which causes stomach cramps and diarrhea and which can cause severe and persistent infections in small children and people with immunological disorders, is notoriously hard to remove by the use of disinfectants and is best eradicated from water supplies with exposure to ultraviolet radiation. For this reason around 300 000 customers in the Blackpool, Chorley, Fylde, Preston, South Ribble and Wyre areas were advised to boil all water prior to use for consumption or cleaning from 7 August onwards. On Thursday 27 August United Utilities lifted the boil water on about 80 000 homes in the Preston, Blackpool and Chorley areas, and the company hopes to restore normal water supplies to all of its customers within a week.

Cryptosporidium: Mature schizont releasing merozoites. The spherical organisms releasing the crescent-shaped merozoites are seen attached to the microvillus brush border. RE Pugh/Deb Stenzel/Laurine Moreau.

Cryptosporidium is an Apicomplexan Protist (single celled Eukaryote, an organism having a cell nucleus) related to the pathogenic Toxoplasma and Malaria causing Plasmodium, though unlike these organisms it causes infections in Mammals and Birds without an intermediate invertebrate host. The organisms live and reproduce inside the small intestines of their hosts, producing large numbers of hardy cysts which are expelled in feces, and which can survive outside a host for long periods of time. It is these cysts which are resistant to disinfectants, making them problematic if they reach water treatment plants, swimming pools or similar man-made environments. Eventually the cysts reach a new host, typically via consumption of water, and mature to become reproductive schizonts, causing a new infection and repeating the infection cycle.

See also...

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Free-living Amoebae are unicellular protozoan’s common in aquatic ecosystems, which are also known to colonize Human created water systems such as water supply systems and swimming pools. Whilst in some ways these organisms can be helpful, consuming a range of Bacterial, Viral and Fungal pathogens...


Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that affects humans, and many other animals, across the globe. While it causes disease in many organisms, it reproduces only in Felids, particularly in Domestic Cats, with oocysts (egg-like cysts) being shed in Cat faeces spreading the disease to many other organisms...


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