Routine Testing Uncovers Microscopic Parasite In Baltimore's Druid Lake Reservoir


(Image Credit: Shutterstock)

BALTIMORE COUNTY - During routine testing, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) identified low levels of Cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite, in the Druid Lake Reservoir.

The microorganism, often found in lakes and rivers, can potentially cause gastrointestinal issues, especially in the immunocompromised, elderly, or children.

This discovery affects only a fraction of the Baltimore region's water system, covering Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Howard County. An Interactive Map has been provided for residents to ascertain if they reside within the impacted regions.

A map of the impacted areas. (Image Credit: Baltimore City Department of Public Works)

DPW has emphasized that the water remains safe for general consumption and that this finding does not parallel previous water-related challenges faced by the region.

Cryptosporidium, while not posing an immediate threat to public health, is known for its resistance to chlorine treatments. This characteristic means secondary treatments, common in hospitals, may not significantly reduce its levels.

The Baltimore City Health Department advises that due to the low risk, most residents only need to take further precautions if they have immunocompromising conditions. Those with suppressed immune systems, including patients with HIV/AIDS, inherited immune diseases, cancer, and transplant recipients, should consider drinking bottled water, boiling tap water for a minute before consumption, or using specialized filters that adhere to the ANSI/NSF 53 or 58 standards.

This detection results from the recently modified Administrative Order on Consent between Baltimore City and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It mandates the testing for Cryptosporidium and Giardia at the city's exposed finished reservoirs.

The latest sampling from Druid Lake Reservoir was collected on September 19, 2023, indicating 0.09 Cryptosporidium Oocyst/Liter.

It's crucial to note that the source water, coming from Liberty, Loch Raven, and Prettyboy reservoirs and the Susquehanna River during drought conditions, has not been affected by this parasite. The DPW continues to treat this source water for Cryptosporidium before it reaches the finished water reservoirs.

In response to the discovery, DPW announced that it will increase the frequency of testing for Cryptosporidium at the city's finished water reservoirs and keep the public informed on the results.

For those seeking more in-depth information, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided resources detailing general information about the parasite and specific guidelines for immunocompromised individuals.

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