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. But what exactly are they and why did NBC have to cancel the show?
Cysts are 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.
Who Should Look Out for Cysts?
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.
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.
Cryptosporidium – What is it?
The second most common type 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 Test For Cysts
Typically, cysts are not found until an individual has become infected symptomatically. Because of this, it is important to get your water tested.
You can test for Giardia or Crypto by scheduling an appointment with your local Culligan dealer.
How To Remove Cysts
You can remove cysts 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.