When is the last time you were concerned about drinking water that contained a parasite such as cryptosporidium? Probably not in a long time, if ever. Well, residents in Portland, Oregon are finding themselves in this situation for the second time in just a couple of months. This news, according to an online article from KATU News, comes just “days before the state is supposed to decide whether to give Portland a waiver on building a $90 million water treatment plant, a second test finds a parasite in the city’s drinking water reservoir.” The Oregon Health Authority will only say that it’s considering the test results and the parasite doesn’t present an immediate threat to human health. City Commissioner Randy Leonard said the water bureau will send a crew to search the creek for beavers, elks or whatever animal is responsible for the cryptosporidium spores. The state has increased their testing for this parasite knowing the Oregon Health Authority will decide by month’s end whether Portland can skip building that $90 million water treatment facility.
If the state does grant Portland a variance on building a treatment facility, the city would be required to test more frequently and notify the OHA immediately if cryptosporidium is discovered. Although immediate threat is not a major concern, to those drinking the water on a regular basis, it may be. Even more alarming is information from the Center for Disease Control; “during the past 2 decades, Crypto has become recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (recreational water and drinking water) in humans in the United States. The parasite is found in every region of the United States and throughout the world.”
According to the CDC, millions of Crypto can be released in a bowel movement from an infected human or animal. To become infected, a person must consume contaminated food or water, including from streams or rivers. “Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by a microscopic parasite that can live in the intestine of humans and animals and is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as “Crypto.” The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very resistant to chlorine-based disinfectants.” Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headaches, nausea, vomiting and a low-grade fever are symptoms which can last for weeks and may result in weight loss and dehydration. Symptoms are more severe for people with weakened immune systems and in the most extreme cases can lead to death. A reverse osmosis system or water filter is qualified to eliminate this parasite. You could boil all of your water which you want to consume, but that is time-consuming and not an eco-friendly solution. With a water filtration system, you are able to still provide your household with safe drinking water as if it were from the tap and worry less about what parasites or other unwanted contaminants you may be drinking.