GMHC Treatment Issues 1994 Oct 1; 8(9): 8
Cryptosporidia are single-cell intestinal parasites that cause
chronic profuse diarrhea, dull upper abdominal cramps and
severe weight loss. This infection can be fatal for people with
severely suppressed immune systems. (See Treatment Issues,
September 1994, pages 5-6 for an update on cryptosporidiosis.)
Removing cryptosporidia from water requires a filter that
removes particles smaller than two microns (less than one
ten-thousandth of an inch).
New York City's Water
Chlorine in usual amounts does not kill cryptosporidia, and New
York City does not comply with Environmental Protection Agency
regulations concerning correct filtration of public water
Trace amounts of cryptosporidia have been found in New York
City's water supply. (Recent samples contained about one
organism per 100 gallons of water). These levels may not be
high enough to harm people with intact immune systems, but they
can be dangerous for people with HIV, and especially AIDS.
Safer Water Sources
- Distilled water is safe.
- Boil all tap water for at least five minutes to make the
drinking water safe. Lemon or other flavorings may be added
to improve the taste. Pour into clean, dry containers.
Dishes, silverware, pots and pans may be washed with tap
water as long as they are dry before they are used.
- Some bottled "spring water," is filtered well enough to trap
cryptosporidiosis. The following brands report that they use
safe filters: Deer Park, Great Bear, Naya, Poland Springs,
Saratoga, Vivanti, Wissahichon.
- Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with boiled (and
cooled), distilled or properly filtered water before eating
- Use only boiled, distilled or properly filtered water to make
ice cubes, dilute fruit juices from concentrate and brush
your teeth. Beware of beverages and ice cubes at restaurants,
where they are usually made with tap water.
- Commercially bottled soft drinks and seltzers are considered
safe. Bottled juices are safe if they have been pasteurized
and do not require refrigeration before opening.
- Milk is safe if pasteurized.
- Be careful not to swallow pool or bath water.
Home Water Filtration Systems
Some home water filtration systems can separate out
cryptosporidia. The following companies claim that their
products include sufficiently fine filters:
Multi-Pure Drinking Water Systems, 21339 Nordhoff Street,
Chatsworth, CA 91311. New York City contact: Krae van Sickle,
212/242-2317 or 516/329-9205
Multi-Pure's models are tested and certified by the EPA and the
NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). GMHC clients receive a
$15-$25 discount, depending upon the model. Prices range from
$189.95 to $329.95.
Everpure Water Treatment Products, 660 N. Blackhawk Drive,
Westmont, IL 60559, 800/323-7873. New York City contact: Lee
Everpure's models are certified by the NSF to remove particles
five microns in size. Prices range from $150 to $500. GMHC
clients, volunteers, and staff are eligible for a discount if
they call the contact person listed above.
Neolife, 155 West Eighty-first Street, #6H, New York, New York
10024, 212/874-6640. The Neolife Water Dome removes particles
0.4 microns and larger. Countertop units cost $199.50 and
undercounter units $387.50.
Equinox, Tres Jordan, 212/421-4247 Equinox filters particles
down to one micron in size.
Above all, don't forget to wash and dry your hands before you
eat or drink!
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