This article reports a quantitative microbial risk assessment of the risk of Giardia and Cryptosporidium in very small private water supplies. Both pathogens have been implicated in causing outbreaks of waterborne disease associated with such supplies, though the risk of endemic disease is not known. For exposure assessments, we used existing data to derive regression equations describing the relationships between the concentration of these pathogens and Escherichia coli in private water supplies. Pathogen concentrations were then estimated using national surveillance data of E. coli in private water supplies in England and France. The estimated risk of infection was very high with the median annual risk being of the order of 25-28% for Cryptosporidium and 0.4% to 0.7% for Giardia, though, in the poorer quality supplies the risk could be much higher. These risks are substantially greater than for public water supplies and well above the risk considered tolerable. The observation that observed infection rates are generally much lower may indicate increased immunity in people regularly consuming water from private supplies. However, this increased immunity is presumed to derive from increased disease risk in young children, the group most at risk from severe disease.
© 2010 Society for Risk Analysis.