The very last thing anyone wants from drinking water is to become unwell - but this is what can happen if certain contaminants are not effectively removed.

Cryptosporidium is a water-borne cyst that is found in human and animal faeces; it can cause painful stomach illness if it finds its way into your body.

A very resilient parasite, cryptosporidium can hang around for a long time and as such, find its way into the water system. It is a very common contaminant.

What effect can cryptosporidium have on health?

Even if ingested in only small quantities, cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a painful stomach upset that is often accompanied by respiratory illness.

A person who has become infected by the parasite will suffer diarrhoea and a persistent cough. A major problem with cryptosporidium infection is that it is relatively easily passed on to other people. The infection also remains in the body for up to five weeks. Cryptosporidium is a major cause of diarrhoea.

Cryptosporidiosis can be very serious, even life-threatening, in the case of people with a compromised immune system.

Why is cryptosporidium a problem in drinking water?

Unfortunately, the tough nature of cryptosporidium means it is also resistant to standard water disinfection methods such as the use of chlorine. Instead water authorities have to rely on alternative methods, such as filtration plants, to get rid of the parasite.

In the wake of outbreaks in the UK in 1989, and again in 2005, the Government tightened up guidelines requiring drinking water to be monitored and efficient disinfection processes put in place.

The dual approach acts as a double safety measure but alerts are still possible. In 2015, 300,000 homes in Lancashire were told to boil their drinking water over concerns there was cryptosporidium in the supply.

As well as finding its way into the drinking water supply, outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis have been linked to swimming pools, farm animals, eating contaminated food and children's nurseries.

What can you do to protect against cryptosporidium?

Water filters are an excellent way to remove Cryptosporidium from drinking water. Doulton Water Filters have been scientifically proven to remove more than 99.99% of cryptosporidium from water - this level is known as absolute filtration.

Why leave your health up to chance when a using water filter could give you the choice to have the best quality drinking water on tap all the time. Stop cryptosporidium in its tracks with a Doulton water filter.

Daniel Berko