New test eases detection of pathogens in drinking water

December 2nd, 2008 - 1:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Dec 2 (IANS) A rapid screening test has eased detection of harmful pathogens in drinking water.The test can identify major species of Cryptosporidium present in human faeces in less than three hours, as against the current methods that take 15 hours. It is the most common non-viral cause of diarrhoea worldwide.

An Environmental Biotechnology CRC (EBCRC) research team led by Belinda Ferrari has collaborated with the Cryptosporidium Reference Lab in Britain to validate their real-time screening tool for Cryptosporidium detection using FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridisation). Current technologies take up to 15 hours to do the equivalent test.

“The probes can distinguish Cryptosporidium C. parvum and Cryptosporidium C. hominis which are responsible for most of the outbreaks that are harmful to humans,” said Anita Alagappan, a test developer and PhD candidate at the EBCRC.

Cryptosporidium, a parasite of humans and animals, causes a gastrointestinal illness in infected individuals known as cryptosporidiosis.

Although waterborne cryptosporidiosis outbreaks have been reported, the source of the contamination has rarely been identified as this requires Cryptosporidium species information, according to an EBCRC release.

“Species data is important to understand the risk of infection to exposed people. There are many different species of Cryptosporidium, some of which are infectious to humans and some that aren’t.

“Many current testing methods only detect the presence/absence of Cryptosporidium but not the species of concern,” said Alagappan.

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