To determine how long waterborne spores of Encephalitozoon cuniculi, E. hellem, and E. intestinalis could survive at environmental temperatures, culture-derived spores were stored in water at 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 C and tested for infectivity in monolayer cultures of Madin Darby bovine kidney (MDBK) cells. At 10 C, spores of E. intestinalis were still infective after 12 mo, whereas those of E. hellem and E. cuniculi were infective for 9 and 3 mo, respectively. At 15 C, spores of the same species remained infective for 10, 6, and 2 mo, and at 20 C, for 7, 5, and 1 mo, respectively. At 25 C, spores of E. intestinalis and E. hellem were infective for 3 mo, but those of E. cuniculi were infective for only 3 wk. At 30 C, the former 2 species were infective for 3 wk and 1 mo, respectively, and the latter species for only 1 wk. These findings indicate that spores of different species of Encephalitozoon differ in their longevity and temperature tolerance, but at temperatures from 10 to 30 C, all 3 have the potential to remain infective in the environment long enough to become widely dispersed.

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