Over recent decades, parasitic protozoa have been recognised as having great potential to cause waterborne and foodborne disease. The organisms of greatest concern in food production worldwide are Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Giardia and Toxoplasma.
Giardia was the first of these organisms to be widely associated with human disease, and there have been many documented cases of waterborne giardiasis since the 1970s. Cryptosporidium emerged as a threat to water supplies in the 1980s, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom, and since that time other countries have had recognised outbreaks of waterborne cryptosporidiosis. Cyclospora has only been documented as a significant human pathogen since the early 1990s. It has been recognized in developed countries as a causative agent of gastrointestinal outbreaks associated primarily with fresh (unprocessed) food produce, particularly soft fruits and leafy vegetables. However, waterborne disease has been reported in developing countries. Although humans are not a primary host for Toxoplasma gondii, the potential exists for both waterborne and foodborne toxoplasmosis.
The report is prepared under the responsibility of the ILSI Europe Emerging Pathogen Task Force and focuses on the potential of these parasites to cause foodborne (and waterborne) disease, and on the prevention and control of foodborne disease.
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