Cryptosporidiosis (Cryptosporidium spp.)

Cryptosporidium (Cryptosporidiosis)Cryptosporidiosis, also called ‘crypto’, is an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cryptosporidium. When a person gets sick from this infection it is called Cryptosporidiosis.

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Symptoms

The most common symptoms of Crypto include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, loss of appetite and mild fever. These symptoms occur within one to 10 days of infection and usually last one or two weeks. In some cases, symptoms can return after a person has started to recover. Often a person can be infected and have no symptoms.

Causes

Cryptosporidiosis is spread by the fecal-oral route, either directly by person-to-person contact (e.g., diaper changing), sexual practices, or indirectly by eating or drinking fecally-contaminated food or water. The infection can also be spread by coming in contact with the feces of an infected animal. Fecal material can get into a person’s mouth by contact with the feces of infected person or animal that is not followed by proper hand washing

Cryptosporidiosis is commonly a water-borne disease.

Treatment

Most people with Cryptosporidiosis will recover without any specific treatment. There are no drugs effective at killing the parasite at this time. Immunocompromised people, such as those living with AIDS or cancer, or transplant patients receiving immunosuppressive drugs are more at risk of serious illness.

Prevention

Illness is preventable by protecting food and water from fecal contamination as well as practicing good hand hygiene, especially before and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, touching animals and before eating or preparing food. Do not drink raw milk or raw milk products. Avoid drinking untreated surface water (eg. from lakes, rivers, springs or ponds). When travelling where the water supply may be unsafe, drink bottled water and avoid uncooked foods washed with unboiled tap water.

Treating water with chlorine will NOT remove the parasite.


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