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Cryptosporidium

What is Cryptosporidiosis?
Cryptosporidiosis is a disease that causes diarrhea. It is caused by microscopic parasites called Cryptosporidium. These parasites can live in the intestine of humans and animals. The disease is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as "Crypto." The parasite can survive outside the body for long periods of time and is very resistant to chlorine-based disinfectants. Crypto is one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in humans in the United States. It can be found in both recreational water and drinking water

How is Cryptosporidiosis spread?
Crypto lives in the intestine. The disease can be transmitted from the time the infected person develops symptoms and can last for weeks after the symptoms (e.g., diarrhea) stop. A person becomes infected by accidentally swallowing the parasite.

Crypto is spread by:

  • Putting something in your mouth or drinking water or beverages that have come into contact with stool of an infected person or animal.
  • Swallowing recreational water contaminated with Crypto. Recreational water includes water from swimming pools, hot tubs, Jacuzzis, fountains, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, or streams.
  • Eating uncooked food contaminated with Crypto. Thoroughly wash vegetables and fruits you plan to eat raw with uncontaminated water.
  • Touching your mouth with contaminated hands. Hands can become contaminated through a variety of activities, such as touching surfaces (e.g., toys, bathroom fixtures, changing tables, and diaper pails) that have been contaminated, changing diapers, caring for an infected person, and/or handling an infected cow or calf.
  • Exposure through sexual contact.

What are the symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis?
The most common symptom of Crypto is watery diarrhea. Other symptoms include:

  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Fluid loss (Dehydration)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Some people with Crypto will have no symptoms at all. The small intestine is the site most commonly affected; however, Crypto can infect other areas of the digestive tract or the respiratory tract.