Transport, fate, and infectivity of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts released from manure and leached through macroporous soil
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Boyer, D.G., Kuczynska, E. & Fayer, R. Environ Geol (2009) 58: 1011. doi:10.1007/s00254-008-1580-x
A major mode of transmission of Cryptosporidium parvum, a widespread waterborne pathogen, is via contaminated drinking and recreational waters. Oocyst transport to surface water can occur by deposition of manure directly in the water or by wash off in surface runoff. Oocyst transport to groundwater is less straightforward and requires that the oocysts move through soil and bedrock to reach the water table. The purpose of this study was to determine the relative concentration and infectivity of C. parvum oocysts released from manure and leached through columns of undisturbed, macroporous karst soil. Modeling the fate of oocysts in this system over time can provide baseline data for evaluating real world events. Substantially more oocysts leached from undisturbed soil columns than disturbed soil columns. Oocyst survival studies using BALB/c neonatal suckling mice showed that about 85% of oocysts were infective at the beginning of leaching experiments. The oocyst infectivity decreased to about 20% after 12 weeks of leaching from soil columns maintained at 10°C. Cool (10°C) temperatures appear to increase survivability and maintain infectivity of many oocysts for 3 months or longer. Cool temperatures also appear to increase rates of release of oocysts from manure and leaching through soil. This study demonstrated that leaching is an important mechanism of oocyst transport in karst soils where infiltration capacities are high and long, continuous macropores exist. Karst groundwater systems might be especially vulnerable to contamination by leached oocysts, because of the prevalence of shallow soils and rapid groundwater movement. Oocysts leaching from soils into the epikarst could accumulate and remain viable for months until hydrological conditions are right for flushing the oocysts into the conduit flow system.