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The development of methods to detect Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts in water began concurrently with the investigation of the first documented outbreaks of waterborne giardiasis in 1965 and Cryptosporidiosis in 1985. The use of immunofluorescence techniques has greatly enhanced the ability to detect cysts and oocysts in environmental waters. Although immunofluorescence is being rapidly adapted for protozoan analysis of water there are a number of major limitations. These include background fluorescence, particularly due to algae, the time required to examine each sample microscopically and the inability to determine viability of the cyst or oocyst. Recently gene probe technology has emerged as a potential solution to some of these concerns. A cDNA probe to ribosomal RNA for Giardia has been used to rapidly screen for cysts in water samples. The sensitivity has approached the detection of 1 cyst in five ml of concentrate.
Cryptosporidium, Giardia, monoclonal antibodies, immunofluorescence, gene probes