Ultraviolet light is being considered as a disinfectant by the water industry because it appears to be very effective for inactivating pathogens, including Cryptosporidium parvum. However, many organisms have mechanisms for repairing ultraviolet light-induced DNA damage, which may limit the utility of this disinfection technology. Inactivation of C. parvum was assessed by measuring infectivity in cells of the human ileocecal adenocarcinoma HCT-8 cell line, with an assay targeting a heat shock protein gene and using a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction to detect infections. Oocysts of five different isolates displayed similar sensitivity to ultraviolet light. An average dosage of 7.6 mJ/cm2 resulted in 99.9% inactivation, providing the first evidence that multiple isolates of C. parvum are equally sensitive to ultraviolet disinfection. Irradiated oocysts were unable to regain pre-irradiation levels of infectivity, following exposure to a broad array of potential repair conditions, such as prolonged incubation, pre-infection excystation triggers, and post-ultraviolet holding periods. A combination of data-mining and sequencing was used to identify genes for all of the major components of a nucleotide excision repair complex in C. parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis. The average similarity between the two organisms for the various genes was 96.4% (range, 92–98%). Thus, while Cryptosporidum spp. may have the potential to repair ultraviolet light-induced damage, oocyst reactivation will not occur under the standard conditions used for storage and distribution of treated drinking water.
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Vol. 51 • No. 5