Efficacy of iodine water purification tablets against Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts

Charles P. Gerba, Dana C. Johnson, Michaela N. Hasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The ability to control water-borne diseases is critical for soldiers, hikers, and others who may need to drink directly from an outdoor source. Water-borne protozoan parasites that are specifically of concern are Giardia and Cryptosporidium because of their resistance to halogen disinfection. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of iodine tablets against Giardia and Cryptosporidium under general- and worst-case water conditions that might be found in the field. Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts were exposed to iodine according to manufacturer's instructions (two tablets/L = 13-18 mg/L for 20 minutes). This dose inactivated 3-log10 of Giardia in general-case water and pH 9. In worst-case water, however, only about 35% of cysts were inactivated at pH 5. Fifty minutes were required to achieve a 3-log10 reduction at pH 5. Cryptosporidium oocysts were more difficult to inactivate. Only 10% were inactivated after a 20-minute exposure to iodine according to manufacturer's instructions; even after 240 minutes of exposure to iodine only 66-81% oocysts were inactivated. These data strongly suggest that iodine disinfection is not effective in inactivating Cryptosporidium oocysts in water. Because this organism is common in all surface waters, it is recommended that another method of treatment be used before ingestion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-100
Number of pages5
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


  • Cryptosporidium
  • Disinfection
  • Giardia
  • Iodine
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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