A catchment-scale investigation of the prevalence of Cryptosporidium and Giardia in the Kuang River Basin was carried out during the dry and rainy seasons. Water samples were collected from the Kuang River and its tributaries as well as a major irrigation canal at the study site. We also investigated the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasitic infection among dairy and beef cattle hosts. Cryptosporidium and/or Giardia were detected in all the rivers considered for this study, reflecting their ubiquity within the Kuang River Basin. The high prevalence of Cryptosporidium/Giardia in the upper Kuang River and Lai River is of a particular concern as both drain into the Mae Kuang Reservoir, a vital source of drinking-water to many local towns and villages at the research area. We did not, however, detected neither Cryptosporidium nor Giardia were in the irrigation canal. The frequency of Cryptosporidium/Giardia detection nearly doubled during the rainy season compared to the dry season, highlighting the importance of water as an agent of transport. In addition to the overland transport of these protozoa from their land sources (e.g. cattle manure, cess pits), Cryptosporidium/Giardia may also be re-suspended from the streambeds (a potentially important repository) into the water column of rivers during storm events. Faecal samples from dairy and beef cattle showed high infection rates from various intestinal parasites - 97% and 94%, respectively. However, Cryptosporidium and Giardia were only detected in beef cattle. The difference in management style between beef (freeranging) and dairy cattle (confined) may account for this disparity. Finally, phylogenetic analyses revealed that the Cryptosporidium/Giardia-positive samples contained C. ryanae (non-zoonotic) as well as Giardia intestinalis assemblages B (zoonotic) and E (non-zoonotic). With only basic water treatment facilities afforded to them, the communities of the rural area relying on these water supplies are highly at risk to Cryptosporidium/Giardia infections.
Data on the distribution of free-living amoebae is still lacking especially in Southeast Asian region. The aquatic environment revealed a high occurrence of free-living amoebae (FLA) due to its suitable condition and availability of food source, which subsequently causes infection to humans. A total of 94 water samples consisted of both treated and untreated from Laos (31), Myanmar (42), and Singapore (21) were investigated for the presence of pathogenic FLA. Each water sample was filtered and cultured onto non-nutrient agar seeded with live suspension of Escherichia coli and incubated at room temperature. Morphological identification was conducted for both trophozoites and cysts via microscopic stains (Giemsa and immunofluorescence). The presence of Naegleria-like structures was the most frequently encountered in both treated and untreated water samples, followed by Acanthamoeba-like and Vermamoeba-like features. To identify the pathogenic isolates, species-specific primer sets were applied for molecular identification of Acanthamoeba, Naegleria, and Vermamoeba. The pathogenic species of Acanthamoeba lenticulata and A. triangularis were detected from untreated water samples, while Vermamoeba vermiformis was found in both treated and untreated water samples. Our results suggested that poor water quality as well as inadequate maintenance and treatment might be the cause of this alarming problem since chlorine disinfection is ineffective in eradicating these amoebas in treated water samples. Regular monitoring and examination of water qualities are necessary in order to control the growth, hence, further preventing the widespread of FLA infections among the public.