What is Protozoa?

Protozoa (or Protists) are single celled eukaryotic organisms which exhibit animal like characteristics like predation. Some of these, like Giardia and Cryptosporidium (various species) can cause parasitic disease in humans.

Which pathogenic protozoa can be found in water supplies?

Giardia and Cryptosporidium are very common in New Zealand.

Giardia

Is carried by birds and other animals. It can cause a nasty infection, characterised by symptoms like violent diarrhoea, excess gas, stomach or abdominal cramps, upset stomach, and nausea. Worse still it can last for 2-6weeks and can recur.

It can also be passed from person to person via the fecal-oral route.

When outside of a host, these form cysts which are very hardy and can resist even chlorine treatment.

It is also possible if you did get this from your water supply to continue to reinfect yourself if the water is not treated

New Zealand has a higher rate of giardiasis infections than other parts of the developed world, at more than 5x the infection rate per 100,000 people than the UK.

Cryptosporidium

Is carried by birds and other animals. It can cause watery diarrhea, stomach cramps or pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever, weight loss.

It can also be passed from person to person via the fecal-oral route.

When outside of a host, these form cysts which are very hardy and can resist even chlorine treatment.

It is also possible, if you did get this from your water supply to continue to reinfect yourself if the water is not treated.

New Zealand has a higher rate of Cryptosporidium infections than other parts of the developed world, the annual notification rate between 1997-2006 averaged 22.0 cases per 100 000, much higher than Australia (15.8) UK (8.5), USA (3.0) and Germany (1.6).

How will I know if I am infected with Giardia or Cryptosporidium?

If you have severe or recurring symptoms, your doctor will request a stool sample, which will be tested.

How can I check if my water supply is safe if I am on a town supply?

Type in the name of your area, click on the search button. It will show you any water supplies in that area, locate yours and click on it and it will tell you what is going on.

In the example below, you can see that this area does not comply with bacterial or protozoal compliance. This can help you to understand if your water is protozoa.

How can I check if my water supply is safe if I am on my own water supply?

Please click here to arrange a water test

It is important to note that if you are on a supply which is not disinfected (e.g. by UV or Chlorine), even if you have a negative E.coli result, it does not necessarily mean that you are safe as this only represents a moment in time. contamination could occur at any time after the test.

The only sure way to have consistently safe drinking water is to disinfect it before use.

The World Health Organisation guidelines for drinking water quality state “Faecally derived pathogens are the principal concerns in setting health-based targets for microbial safety. Microbial water quality often varies rapidly and over a wide range. Short-term peaks in pathogen concentration may increase disease risks considerably and may trigger outbreaks of waterborne disease. Furthermore, by the time microbial contamination is detected, many people may have been exposed. For these reasons, reliance cannot be placed solely on end-product testing, even when frequent, to determine the microbial safety of drinking water”

If your water supply is not disinfected please click here to find out how we can disinfect your water.