Cryptosporidiosis: Overview

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Modified on 2009/10/14 21:40 by admin
Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by a microscopic parasite, Cryptosporidium parvum. It lives in the intestines of humans and animals and is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal. Both the disease and the parasite are known as "Crypto." The parasite has a protective outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods and makes it very resistant to chlorine disinfection. Symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis generally begin 2-10 days after being infected and include, but may not be limited to, diarrhea, loose or watery stools, stomach cramps, upset stomach, and a slight fever. Some people have no symptoms. In otherwise healthy people, symptoms usually last about 2 weeks and go away on their own. Millions of Crypto bacteria can be released in a bowel movement of an infected human or animal. You can become infected after accidentally swallowing the parasite. Crypto may be found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals. Crypto is not spread by contact with blood. Putting something in your mouth or accidentally swallowing something that has been exposed to the stool of an infected person can spread crypto. Swallowing recreational water like that in swimming pools, hot tubs, Jacuzzis, fountains, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds or streams can cause Cryptosporidiosis. Crypto is chlorine resistant and can live for days in pools. Crypto infection can also result from eating uncooked food contaminated with Crypto or from accidentally swallowing Crypto picked up from surfaces (toys, bathroom fixtures, changing tables, diaper pails) contaminated with stool from an infected person.

There is no effective treatment or cure for Crypto. Most people with a healthy immune system will recover on their own. However, people who are in poor health or who have a weakened immune system from a condition like AIDS are at higher risk for more severe and more prolonged illness. In the last twenty years, Crypto has become recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (drinking and recreational) in humans in the United States. The parasite is found in every region of the United States and throughout the world.

See Also

  1. Infections
  2. Cryptosporidium Parvum: Overview
  3. Food Products & Restaurants
  4. Hot Tubs & Spas: Overview
  5. Pool Accidents
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