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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1989 May; 55(5): 1223–1229.
PMCID: PMC184281

Viability of Giardia cysts suspended in lake, river, and tap water.


Numerous waterborne outbreaks of giardiasis have occurred since 1965, yet little or no information has been reported on the viability of Giardia cysts in different aquatic environments. We have studied the viability of Giardia muris cysts suspended in lake, river, and tap water, while also monitoring water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and other water quality parameters. Fecal pellets containing G. muris cysts were placed in glass vials covered with filter paper and exposed to (i) lake water at 15 ft (ca. 4.6 m) and 30 ft (ca. 9.2 m), (ii) river water, (iii) tap water, and (iv) distilled water stored under laboratory conditions. At 3, 7, 14, 28, 56, and 84 days, two vials from each environment were removed, and cyst viability was determined by (i) fluorogenic dye exclusion, (ii) production of giardiasis in an animal, and (iii) cyst morphology by Nomarski microscopy. In the fall, the cysts suspended at 30 ft in lake water remained viable for up to 56 days whereas cysts stored at 15 ft were nonviable after day 28. The G. muris cysts exposed to river water remained viable up to 28 days as determined by the production of giardiasis in mice. G. muris cysts suspended in tap water showed no signs of viability after 14 days, while cysts serving as controls (exposed to refrigerated distilled water) remained viable for up to 56 days. In the winter, Giardia cysts suspended in either lake or river water were viable for 56 to 84 days whereas cysts exposed to tap water were nonviable by day 14.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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