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International Journal of Environmental Health Research 14(5), 351 – 358 (October 2004)

Prevalence of Cryptosporidium parvum in private drinking water cisterns in Bani-Kenanah district, northern Jordan

Parasitology Research Laboratory, Department of Basic Veterinary Medical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, JordanUniversity of Science and Technology, PO Box 3030, Irbid 22110, Jordan, 2Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Jordan University of Science and Technology, PO Box 3030, Irbid 22110, Jordan

Due to water scarcity in Jordan, the water authority only pump the water once or twice a week to the population. Thus people in rural areas, including the Bani-Kenanah district, make the most oftheir water resources by storing rainwater in private reservoirs for use during periods of water shortage. These reservoirs include; underground cisterns and concrete or metal tanks. The water collected in these reservoirs is at risk of contamination. During the period March – July 2002, the three types of reservoirs from 368 households were surveyed for presence of Escherichia coli andCryptosporidium parvum, indicators of contamination. The cistern was the most contaminated reservoir with 17% (95% CI: 13,22) for E. coli (significant, P 5 0.05), and 2% (95% CI: 1,4) for C. parvum. Only 1% (95% CI: 1,6) of the metal reservoirs had E. coli, while concrete reservoirs were free. No C. parvum oocysts were detected in either the concrete or metal reservoirs. Reservoirs opening at floor level andthe bucket kept outside the reservoir were significant (P 5 0.05) enhancing risk factors for contamination with C. parvum. Keywords: Cryptosporidium parvum; Escherichia coli; drinking water; cistern; Jordan; risk factors.

Jordan is suffering from water scarcity. The water shortage in Jordan has been exacerbated by the high rate of population growth, the forced immigration of hundredsof thousands of Jordanian and Palestinian returnees from the Arab Gulf countries, and the rise in water consumption per capita (Salameh and Bannyan 1993). The inhabitants of rural areas in northern Jordan especially in Bani-Kenanah district collect rainwater from roof run-off to be stored in watertight underground cisterns (Rabi’ and AboShehada 1995). Public sewage disposal systems are notavailable in most rural areas and individual disposal systems are common. The seepage pit is the most frequently utilised because it is cheap to construct and makes use of soil absorption. Consequently there is a health hazard through the contamination of drinking water stored in underground reservoirs (Rabi’ and Abo-Shehada 1995). The underground location of the cistern is a factor that contributes tothe liability of

Correspondence: M.N. Abo-Shehada, Parasitology Research Laboratory, Department of Basic Veterinary Medical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Jordan University of Science and Technology, PO Box 3030, Irbid 22110, Jordan. E-mail:
ISSN 0960-3123 print/ISSN 1369-1619 online/04/050351-08 # 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/09603120400004030

352Abo-Shehada et al.

reservoir faecal contamination, which may originate from the seepage pit or from animals and bird droppings coming with run-off rain water (Barreil 1989). Over the past 2 decades, the safety of the Jordanian water supply has been threatened by the emergence of Cryptosporidium parvum, a protozoal pathogen causing gastrointestinal infection. The oocysts of this organismsurvive chlorination and filtration to cause a diarrhoeal illness that, while unpleasant enough in healthy people is devastating in immuno-compromised individuals (Steiner et al. 1997). The medical interest was generated in 1982 when an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis was reported in immuno-competent individuals who had been in close contact with infected calves (Anon 1982). In Jordan, C. parvum has been...
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