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Cryptosporidiosis (crypto) is an illness caused by a parasite. The parasite lives in soil, food, and water. It may also be on surfaces that have been contaminated with feces (poop). You can become infected by swallowing the parasite, if it is in your food, drinking water, or water that you swim in. You can also get it by touching your mouth with contaminated hands.

The most common symptom of crypto is watery diarrhea. Other symptoms include

  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Contact your health care provider if you have watery diarrhea that lasts more than a few days. Most people with crypto get better without treatment within one to two weeks. But crypto can cause serious problems in people with weak immune systems, like those with HIV/AIDS.

To reduce your risk of crypto, wash your hands often, only drink water that you know is safe, and wash or peel fresh fruits and vegetables before eating.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis

The following features are indicative of Cryptosporidiosis:
  • watery diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • lack of appetite
  • weight loss
  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
It is possible that Cryptosporidiosis shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Cryptosporidiosis

The following are the most common causes of Cryptosporidiosis:
  • eating uncooked and contaminated food
  • use of contaminated water for drinking
  • exposure of hands to contaminated surface or object

Risk Factors for Cryptosporidiosis

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Cryptosporidiosis:
  • individuals who are exposed to contaminated water
  • children, particularly those wearing diapers, who attend child care centers
  • parents of infected children
  • child care workers
  • animal handlers
  • those who engage in oral-to-anal sexual activity
  • international travelers
  • backpackers, hikers and campers who drink untreated and unfiltered water
  • swimmers who swallow water in pools, lakes and rivers
  • people who drink water from shallow or unprotected wells

Prevention of Cryptosporidiosis

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Cryptosporidiosis. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • practice good hygiene
  • thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables with uncontaminated water
  • drink purified water
  • limit swimming activities in lakes, streams and public swimming pools
  • avoid fecal exposure
  • wash hands after handling the animals

Occurrence of Cryptosporidiosis

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Cryptosporidiosis cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Cryptosporidiosis most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 1-10 years

Common Gender

Cryptosporidiosis can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Cryptosporidiosis

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Cryptosporidiosis:
  • Acid-staining test: To identify cryptosporidium under a microscope
  • Stool culture: To rule out other bacterial pathogens

Doctor for Diagnosis of Cryptosporidiosis

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis:
  • Infectious disease specialist

Complications of Cryptosporidiosis if untreated

Yes, Cryptosporidiosis causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Cryptosporidiosis is left untreated:
  • malabsorption
  • severe dehydration
  • significant weight loss
  • inflammation of a bile duct
  • inflammation of the gallbladder, liver or pancreas

Self-care for Cryptosporidiosis

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Cryptosporidiosis:
  • Practice good hygiene: Helps in preventing the transmission of the cryptosporidium germs
  • Purify drinking water: Helps in fighting against the infection
  • Limit swimming activities: Helps in fighting the infection

Time for Treatment of Cryptosporidiosis

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Cryptosporidiosis to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Is Cryptosporidiosis Infectious?

Yes, Cryptosporidiosis is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • close contact with other infected people or animals

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Cryptosporidiosis.

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