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Cryptosporidium


Image: CDC

Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite (a tiny organism) that causes an infection called cryptosporidiosis affecting people and cattle.

The most common symptom is watery diarrhoea, which can range from mild to severe.

Cryptosporidiosis is most common in children aged between 1 and 5 years, but it can affect anyone. People with weak immune systems are likely to be most seriously affected.

There is no specific treatment for cryptosporidiosis. Most people with a healthy immune system will recover within one month. It is important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Cryptosporidium is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected human or animal faeces. Transmission occurs through animal-to-human or human-to-human contact. People may also be infected by consuming contaminated water or food, or by swimming in contaminated water (for example in lakes or rivers). Infection is frequently associated with foreign travel.

Clinical information

Incubation period:
Average 7-10 days; range 1-28 days

Common clinical features:
Watery or mucoid diarrhoea.

Reservoir:
Gastrointestinal tract of man and animals, particularly farm and other domesticated animals. Water contaminated with faeces.

Transmission:
Contact with infected animals. Outbreaks have been associated with public water supplies and contaminated food. Seasonal outbreaks are associated with farm visits to feed and handle lambs. Person to person spread, particularly in households and nurseries. Infection through swimming pools has been reported.

Oocysts resist standard chlorination. Immunocompromised individuals are particularly susceptible and excrete large numbers of organisms if infected.


Image: CDC

Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite (a tiny organism) that causes an infection called cryptosporidiosis affecting people and cattle.

The most common symptom is watery diarrhoea, which can range from mild to severe.

Cryptosporidiosis is most common in children aged between 1 and 5 years, but it can affect anyone. People with weak immune systems are likely to be most seriously affected.

There is no specific treatment for cryptosporidiosis. Most people with a healthy immune system will recover within one month. It is important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Cryptosporidium is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected human or animal faeces. Transmission occurs through animal-to-human or human-to-human contact. People may also be infected by consuming contaminated water or food, or by swimming in contaminated water (for example in lakes or rivers). Infection is frequently associated with foreign travel.

Clinical information

Incubation period:
Average 7-10 days; range 1-28 days

Common clinical features:
Watery or mucoid diarrhoea.

Reservoir:
Gastrointestinal tract of man and animals, particularly farm and other domesticated animals. Water contaminated with faeces.

Transmission:
Contact with infected animals. Outbreaks have been associated with public water supplies and contaminated food. Seasonal outbreaks are associated with farm visits to feed and handle lambs. Person to person spread, particularly in households and nurseries. Infection through swimming pools has been reported.

Oocysts resist standard chlorination. Immunocompromised individuals are particularly susceptible and excrete large numbers of organisms if infected.

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