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Analysis of the presence of Cyclospora in waters of the Mid-Atlantic states and evaluation of removal and inactivation by filtration

Kniel-Tolbert, Kalmia
University of Delaware
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Cyclospora cayetanensis is a protozoan parasite that causes gastrointestinal illness following consumption of contaminated produce or water. Cyclospora is still considered an emerging pathogen by many, due to the limited understanding surrounding the transmission and survival of oocysts in the environment along with difficulties and limitations in detection of oocysts. This project has two main objectives, which will address critical data gaps that affect the produce industry across multiple commodities. The first objective is to provide an understanding of the impact of C. cayetanensis on waters in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, a previously unstudied area. In many ways the Delmarva area serves as a model region, centered on a large watershed with active agriculture and within the urban heart of the East Coast. The water sources tested include those that could be used for irrigation of raw agricultural commodities such as surface water (pond, river), reclaimed wastewater, and reclaimed produce wash water. The second objective will elucidate the efficacy of ZVI filtration in the removal and inactivation of parasitic pathogens to improve pre-harvest food safety. This work will also facilitate the development of novel on-farm filtration technology and guidelines for commercial applications to control parasitic pathogens in agricultural water, thus improving the safety of produce and reducing parasitic foodborne illness. The proposed ZVI technology may offer advantages to growers including adaptation to existing filtration systems, feasibility, effective filtration and broad neutralization of numerous biological and chemical hazards with minimal environmental impacts. As the number of C. cayetanensis outbreaks associated with produce continue to increase, knowledge of the organism and novel intervention strategies will be crucial to ensure the safety of produce.
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Natural Toxins
Bacterial Pathogens