Environmental Geology

, Volume 58, Issue 5, pp 1011–1019

Transport, fate, and infectivity of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts released from manure and leached through macroporous soil

Original Article


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.


Cryptosporidium Leaching Soil transport Epikarst 


  1. Boyer DG, Kuczynska E (2003) Storm and seasonal distributions of fecal coliforms and Cryptosporidium in a spring. J Am Water Resourc Assoc 39:1449–1456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bradford SA, Schijven J (2002) Release of Cryptosporidium and Giardia from dairy calf manure: impact of solution salinity. Environ Sci Technol 36:3916–3923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bradford SA, Bettahar M (2006) Concentration dependent transport of colloids in saturated porous media. J Contam Hydrol 82:99–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brookes JD, Antenucci J, Hipsey M, Burch MD, Ashbolt NJ, Ferguson C (2004) Fate and transport of pathogens in lakes and reservoirs. Environ Int 30:741–759CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cianai A, Goss K-U, Schwarzenbach RP (2005) Light penetration in soil and particulate minerals. Eur J Soil Sci 56:561–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. D’Antonio RG, Winn RE, Taylor JP, Gustafson TL, Current WL, Rhodes MM, Gary GW, Zajac RA (1986) A waterborne outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis in normal hosts. Ann Intern Med 103:886–888CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Darnault CJG, Garnier P, Kim Y-J, Oveson KL, Steenhuis TS, Parlange J-Y, Jenkins M, Ghiorse WC, Baveye P (2003) Preferential transport of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in variably saturated subsurface environments. Water Environ Res 75:113–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Darnault CJG, Steenhuis TS, Garnier P, Kim Y-J, Jenkins MB, Ghiorse WC, Baveye PC, Parlange J-Y (2004) Preferential flow and transport of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts through the vadose zone: experiments and modeling. Vadose Zone J 3:262–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. DuPont HL, Chappell CL, Sterling CR, Okhuysen PC, Rose JB, Jakubowski W (1995) The infectivity of Cryptosporidium parvum in healthy volunteers. New Engl J Med 332:855–859CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fayer R (1994) Effect of high temperature on infectivity of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in water. Appl Environ Microb 60:2732–2735Google Scholar
  11. Fayer RJ, Trout MT, Jenkins MC (1998) Infectivity of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts stored in water at environmental temperatures. J Parasitol 84:1165–1169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fayer R, Santín M, Trout JM, Greiner E (2006) Prevalence of species and genotypes of Cryptosporidium found in 1–2-year-old dairy cattle in the eastern United States. Vet Parasitol 135:105–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jenkins MB, Bowman DD, Fogarty EA, Ghiorse WC (2002) Cryptosporidium parvum oocyst inactivation in three soil types at various temperatures and water potentials. Soil Biol Biochem 34:1101–1109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jones WK, Culver DC, Herman JS (2004) Introduction. In: Jones WK, Culver DC, Herman JS (eds) Epikarst: proceedings of the symposium held 1 through 4 October 2003, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, USA. Special Publication 9. Karst Waters Institute, Charles Town, WV, pp 1–2Google Scholar
  15. Kuczynska E, Shelton DR (1999) Method for detection and enumeration of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in feces, manures, and soils. Appl Environ Microb 65:2820–2826Google Scholar
  16. Kuczynska E, Boyer DG, Shelton DR (2003) Comparison of immunofluorescence assay and immunomagnetic electrochemiluminescence in detection of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in karst water samples. J Microbiol Methods 53:17–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kuczynska E, Pachepsky Y, Rouhi SA, Shelton DR (2005a) Transport of manure-borne Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts through saturated and unsaturated soil columns. Int Agrophys 19:315–322Google Scholar
  18. Kuczynska E, Shelton DR, Pachepsky Y (2005b) Effect of bovine manure on Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts attachment to soil. Appl Environ Microb 71:6394–6397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Li X, Atwill ER, Dunbar LA, Jones T, Hook J, Tate KW (2005) Seasonal temperature fluctuations induces rapid inactivation of Cryptosporidium parvum. Environ Sci Technol 39:4484–4489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mawdsley JL, Brooks AE, Merry RJ (1996a) Movement of the protozoan pathogen Cryptosporidium parvum through three contrasting soil types. Biol Fertil Soils 21:30–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mawdsley JL, Brooks AE, Merry RJ, Pain BF (1996b) Use of a novel soil tilting table apparatus to demonstrate the horizontal and vertical movement of the protozoan pathogen Cryptosporidium parvum in soil. Biol Fertil Soils 23:215–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Olson ME, Goh J, Phillips M, Guselle N, McAllister TA (1999) Giardia cyst and Cryptosporidium oocyst survival in water, soil, and cattle feces. J Environ Qual 28:1991–1996CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Robertson LJ, Campbell AT, Smith HV (1992) Survival of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts under various environmental pressures. Appl Environ Microbiol 58:3494–3500Google Scholar
  24. Santín M, Trout JM, Xiao L, Zhou L, Greiner E, Fayer R (2004) Prevalence and age-related variation of Cryptosporidium species and genotypes in dairy calves. Vet Parasitol 122:103–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Schijven JF, Bradford SA, Yang S (2004) Release of Cryptosporidium and Giardia from dairy cattle manure: physical factors. J Environ Qual 33:1499–1508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tate KW, Atwill ER, George MR, Larsen NKME (2000) Cryptosporidium parvum transport from cattle fecal deposits on California rangelands. J Range Manage 53:295–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tufenkji N, Miller GF, Ryan JN, Harvey RW, Elimelech M (2004) Transport of Cryptosporidium oocysts in porous media: role of straining and physicochemical filtration. Environ Sci Technol 38:5932–5938CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Walker MJ, Montemagno CD, Jenkins MB (1998) Source water assessment and nonpoint sources of acutely toxic contaminants: a review of research related to survival and transport of Cryptosporidium parvum. Water Resour Res 34:3383–3392CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Appalachian Farming Systems Research CenterAgricultural Research Service, US Department of AgricultureBeaverUSA
  2. 2.Little Neck ParkwayFloral ParkUSA
  3. 3.Environmental Microbial Safety LaboratoryAgricultural Research Service, US Department of AgricultureBeltsvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations