The Development of a National Reference Collection for Oocysts of Cryptosporidium



The protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum is transmitted via contact with infected animals, recreational waters or contaminated drinking water or food and represents a significant public health problem. Approximately 6000 cases are reported each year in the UK. The number of cases in the UK is likely to be underreported. In the absence of available specific treatment of human cases, research has been directed towards developing molecular methods to characterise parasites so that sources and origins of infections can be identified and appropriate measures put in place to control routes of infection. To support the underlying scientific process of the development of Cryptosporidium parvum genotyping, a national collection of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts and DNA, with a supportive database of patient data, has been established.

The aims of the project were several-fold.

A large collection of well-documented Cryptosporidium sp. isolates (1172 from Scotland, 5001 from England and Wales) has been collected and archived providing not only a comprehensive picture of the prevalence and distribution of human and livestock cases of the disease but also an essential archive of material for future development of molecular epidemiological tools. The results have shown that the application of molecular fingerprinting using the new highly polymorphic markers provides much greater definition and resolution of the differences between Cryptosporidium parvum isolates than has been possible previously.

Copies of this report may be available as an Acrobat pdf download under the 'Find Completed Research' heading on the DWI website.