Cryptosporidium parvum oocyst viability can be determined by vital dyes, in vitro excystation, and cell culture; however, neonatal mouse infectivity assays are the reference method. Unfortunately, there have been few efforts to standardize methods for infectivity assays thus casting a veil of uncertainty over the significance and comparability of results. In order to address this issue, two laboratories proficient in measuring oocyst infectivity conducted independent dose titration studies with neonatal CD-1 mice using standardized protocols and a well-characterized isolate of Cryptosporidium parvum. The resulting independent logistic dose-response models derived by regression analysis were compared with each other and with a published model. The comparisons showed these dose-response functions to be reproducible under standardized conditions. It is important to standardize mouse strain, age of mice at inoculation and necropsy, oocyst isolate, and age of oocysts. However, other factors, including methods used to detect infectivity and to count oocyst doses, appear less critical. Adopting a standardized assay for oocyst infectivity will provide both a basis for comparing data from various oocyst disinfection studies and a suitable platform for evaluating new or existing in vitro viability surrogates such as excystation, vital dyes or cell culture.
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Vol. 47 • No. 3