Portland Water Bureau finds Cryptosporidium in Bull Run sample, no risk to public

Cryptosporidium oocysts - Photo from the Centers for Disease Control

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Water Bureau said it found a Cryptosporidium parasite during a routine test of the Bull Run watershed, however officials said they don’t think there’s any risk to the public.

This marks the fourth time they’ve detected the potentially-deadly Cryptosporidium oocysts in water tests since the start of January.

"The Portland Water Bureau is carefully tracking these results and working closely with our partners at the Multnomah County Health Department and Oregon Health Authority," said Water Bureau Administrator Mike Stuhr. "While the health risk of these results is low, we take seriously our commitment to protecting public health."

Back in 2012, the Oregon Health Authority granted Portland a variance in treating the water for Cryptosporidium. The city argued they shouldn’t have to treat for the parasite because hadn’t been detected in the Bull Run water in nearly a decade.

Instead, the bureau was required to do regular tests and report any Cryptosporidium to the public.

The January 2 test was the first positive Cryptosporidium sample since the bureau received the federal Safe Drinking Water Act variance.

The Centers for Disease Control said the parasite causes Cryptospoidiosis. Mulnomah County Health officials said they haven’t seen any evidence of an outbreak of the illness.

Officials said they think the parasites came from wildlife in the Bull Run watershed, but they haven’t identified the source.

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