ASSESSMENT OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE GUADALUPE WATER TREATMENT PLANT IN REMOVING ESCHERICHIA COLI AND INTESTINAL PARASITES
Susana Portillo1, Melissa Solano Barquero2, Luz Chacon Jimenez2.
The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, 2Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, CR.
Access to potable water free of contaminants is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Many Latin American countries lack access to potable water or quality potable water. Under these conditions, pathogenic microorganisms can easily be transmitted to consumers. We know that some microorganisms are resistant to many of the water treatments used, posing a threat to healthcare. In this study, water samples were assessed from 6 different time points from the water treatment plant located in Guadalupe, Costa Rica, for their efficacy in removing harmful pathogens. We use flocculation, Filta-Max, immunomagnetic separation, and immunofluorescence to detect Giardia spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. parasites. The most probable number technique was also implemented in both the presumptive and confirmatory phase to detect pathogenic Escherichia coli gene strains. By using these techniques, we were able to determine that, even after the harsh treatment the drinking water was given, both types of parasites were found at more than one time point, and one pathogenic E. coli gene, heat-labile enterotoxin (LT), was found. More importantly, 2 Cryptosporidium spp. were found in the water at the exit time point. From this point, water is distributed to households. This shows that currently implemented water treatments are not sufficient to remove harmful pathogens, raising public health concerns.