Cryptosporidia infection (diarrheal parasitic)

Abdomen | General Practice | Cryptosporidia infection (diarrheal parasitic) (Disease)


After infection, symptoms can take between one to 12 days to develop. Anyone can become infected with Cryptosporidium parasites.

It affects the intestines of mammals and is typically an acute short-term infection. It is spread through the fecal-oral route, often through contaminated water; the main symptom is self-limiting diarrhea in people with intact immune systems. In immunocompromised individuals, such as AIDS patients, the symptoms are particularly severe and often fatal. Cryptosporidium is the organism most commonly isolated in HIV positive patients presenting with diarrhea.

Cryptosporidiosis symptoms may last several weeks. Typical symptoms include: watery diarrhoea, stomach cramps, bloating, vomiting, fever.

Outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis have been associated with child care centres, public swimming pools and contaminated water supplies. Most reported cases occur among: young children and people in their household; travellers; people in close contact with animals.

Causes and Risk factors

Cryptosporidia infection is cause by microscopic parasites of the genus Cryptosporidium known as a diarrheal disease. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as Crypto. Infection usually occurs by ingesting the parasite and results in diarrhea.

Infection is through contaminated material such as earth, water, uncooked or cross-contaminated food that has been in contact with the feces of an infected individual or animal. Contact must then be transferred to the mouth and swallowed. It is especially prevalent amongst those in regular contact with bodies of fresh water including recreational water such as swimming pools. Other potential sources include insufficiently treated water supplies, contaminated food, or exposure to feces.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment is primarily supportive. Fluids need to be replaced orally. A lactose-free diet should be taken as tolerated. In rare situations, intravenous fluids may be required. Antibiotics are not usually helpful, and are primarily reserved for persons with severe disease and a weak immune system. Sometimes relapses happen. ...