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What is Cryptosporidiosis?

Cryptosporidiosis is an infection caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium which is found in stool. You can develop the infection from being exposed to infected feces and after eating food and drinking water that is contaminated with stool. You can also get the infection by touching things or surfaces contaminated with stool.

What Causes Cryptosporidiosis?

Cryptosporidiosis is caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium which live in the intestines of humans and animals. You can get cryptosporidiosis from contact with anything that contains the parasite such as:

  • Drinking or eating contaminated water or food
  • Eating uncooked contaminated food that contains the parasite
  • Hand to mouth contact if your hand has been in contact with a contaminated object, surface, person, or animal

What are the Symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis?

Sometimes you may not show any signs or symptoms. In others, symptoms may develop, which includes:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Cryptosporidiosis may cause serious complications for people with compromised immune systems such as those suffering from HIV or undergoing chemotherapy.

How is Cryptosporidiosis Diagnosed?

Your doctor diagnoses cryptosporidiosis with the help of a stool culture. Multiple samples may be required sometimes as the parasites are very small and difficult to observe under a microscope.

What are the Treatments for Cryptosporidiosis?

Treatment options include:

  • Anti-motility agents to relieve diarrhea
  • Oral or IV fluid and electrolyte replacement to prevent dehydration
  • Anti-parasitic drugs
  • Antiretroviral therapies

How is Cryptosporidiosis Prevented?

You can prevent cryptosporidiosis by maintaining good personal hygiene such as:

  • Washing and peeling all fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming
  • Washing utensils properly that are used to handle raw meat
  • Washing your hands thoroughly before making food or eating
  • Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers
  • Avoid drinking unfiltered water

The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after using the bathroom, before cooking or eating, after gardening, and after handling animals.