Detection of Cryptosporidium species and sources of contamination with Cryptosporidium hominis during a waterborne outbreak in north west Wales
As part of investigations into the cause of a waterborne outbreak of Cryptosporidium hominis infection linked to a mains water supply, surface waters and wastewater treatment plants were tested for Cryptosporidium spp. Oocyst counts in base flow surface water samples ranged from nil to 29 per 10 l. Oocyst counts in effluent from a community wastewater treatment plant were up to 63 fold higher and breakout from one septic tank five logs higher. There were no peak (storm) flow events during the investigation. C. hominis, four named genotypes (cervine, muskrat II, rat, W19) and six new small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequences were identified. Four of the new sequences were closely related to Cryptosporidium muskrat genotype I, one was closely related to the fox genotype and one to Cryptosporidium canis. C. hominis was found extensively in the catchment, but only at sites contaminated by wastewater, and in the treated water supply to the affected area. All were gp60 subtype IbA10G2, the outbreak subtype. Multiple routes of contamination of the reservoir were identified, resulting in persistent detection of low numbers of oocysts in the final water. This work demonstrates the utility of genotyping Cryptosporidium isolates in environmental samples during outbreak investigations.