Detection of Cryptosporidium parvum in lettuce

John E. Moore, B. Cherie Millar, Fiona Kenny, Colm Lowery, Lihua Xiao, Juluri R. Rao, Vera Nicholson, Miyuki Watabe, Neville Heaney, Olaf Sunnotel, Kieran McCorry, Paul J. Rooney, William J. Snelling, James Dooley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Human cryptosporidiosis has emerged as an important gastrointestinal infection in the 1990s as a result of the ingestion of mainly contaminated water and to a lesser extent foodstuffs containing the protozoan parasite, Cryptosporidium parvum. This pathogen has particular clinical significance for immunocompromised persons, including AIDS patients and cancer patients receiving toxic chemotherapeutic drug regimens. There have been a limited number of studies performed examining the occurrence of the parasite on vegetables, including lettuce. Detection rates are very dependent on the laboratory isolation technique employed and has ranged from 1.2% to 14.5%. Current best practice of laboratory recovery, isolation and detection methods include detergent removal, oocysts concentration by immunomagnetic separation, followed by a combination of immunofluorescent microscopy and a nested PCR approach. Employment of contaminated non-potable water in the production of vegetables, particularly lettuce, may represent an important potential source of entry of pathogens into food processing and the human food chain. Given that lettuce is an important constituent of hamburger dressing, and the size of the fast-food industry, where lettuce is an important constituent, horticultural producers of lettuce should therefore place special emphasis on developing suitable and efficient Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point strategies for the critical control of oocysts depending on the type of unit operation employed and vegetable being processed. This review aims to examine (i) the incidence of C. parvum in vegetables, particularly lettuce and (ii) laboratory detection methods for the isolation and identification of this parasite from lettuce.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-393
JournalInternational Journal of Food Science and Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Apr 2007


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