Giardia Cysts in Your Water – Should You Be Worried?

What happens when there is an outbreak of parasitic cysts in your water? This was the problem that NBC dealt with when they recently had to cancel their upcoming reality competition show “Ultimate Slip N’ Slide” due to an outbreak of Giardia.

What Are Cysts…And How Do They Get In My Water?

Cysts are microbial parasites, bacteria, and other microorganisms that are found in water, that can cause illness to humans and animals that drink it. Not only are these parasites affecting NBC, they also could be in your home’s water supply.

Giardia In Well Water – And How To Test For It

While cysts are a problem that can affect anyone and everyone, people who rely on wells should be more concerned. Well water, which is untreated and comes from underground aquifers, is used by about 15% of the United States. Typically, it is used in rural areas and falls under the responsibility of individual homeowners as opposed to municipalities like we see in the city.

So, how do they get into your wells? Well, these parasites and bacteria can enter your well by surface water infiltrating the well. This can happen with heavy rains, flooding of rivers, and more. While the construction of your well plays a big part in how cysts may get in, and shallower wells are often more susceptible, even the most efficiently constructed wells can allow the microorganisms to enter.

You should get your well water tested every six months to ensure quality. Culligan offers a FREE water test with no obligations or options to buy for residential homes. EPA-approved well testing requires a lab kit and will run around $100. Contact us to learn more.

Giardia – What is it?

The most common type of cyst is Giardia. According to the CDC, Giardia is a tiny parasite that is found in feces-ridden liquid that comes from infected individuals or animals. According to a report from Penn State University, “Studies showed that the outbreaks occurred in communities with inadequate chlorination systems, improperly operated and maintained filtration equipment, and even unfiltered water supplies.”

The germs from the parasite can be spread from person to person or through ingesting contaminated water. Ingesting Giardia results in giardiasis, which is commonly known as “Beaver Fever,” a diarrheal disease. Why is it called “Beaver Fever?” The disease is commonly called this because beavers typically contaminate the water with their feces, and humans then drink the contaminant.

Is There A Water Filter For Giardia?

There are no water filters that remove Giardia. So how do you kill Giardia? What temperature does it die?

According to the USDA “While Giardia cysts die at temperatures below boiling (130-145° F), to be safe you should maintain a rolling boil for several minutes-longer at high altitudes.”

Cryptosporidium – What is it?

The second most common type of cyst is Cryptosporidium. Like Giardia, “Crypto” is a small parasite found in water that has been contaminated with feces from infected individuals or animals. The parasite is very resistant to chlorine-based disinfectants and has a protective outer shell which allows it to survive outside the body for long period of time.

How To Remove Cysts From Water

You can remove cysts from your water supply by boiling on a case-by-case basis. However, this can become time consuming. Luckily, there are more efficient methods that will remove these microorganisms for you:

  • One method is UV light. With this method however, you need to be careful. The size of the system is very important and the water’s hardness, iron levels and other factors can affect the effectiveness of the method.
  • Chlorination also can be very effective. By adding the proper amount of chlorine to the contaminant, and giving it time to dwell, the bacteria will be killed off.
  • A third method is distillation. While effective, this method is more expensive and the maintenance of it is extremely high.
  • Finally, by using reverse osmosis filtration systems, the contaminant is filtered through a semi-permeable membrane, leaving the cysts on one side and clean water in your home.

While Giardia and Crypto are not the only types of bacteria homeowners deal with, they are the most common. Reverse osmosis systems are a great way to filter out ANY cyst. For more information on renting or purchasing a reverse osmosis system, click here.

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