See what questions
a doctor would ask.
Article title: Cryptosporidiosis: DPD
Cryptosporidiosis (krip-toe-spo-rid-e-o-sis), is a diarrheal disease caused by a microscopic parasite, Cryptosporidium parvum. It can live in the intestine of humans and animals and is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal. Both the disease and the parasite are also known as "Crypto." The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very resistant to chlorine disinfection. During the past two decades, 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.
Symptoms include diarrhea, loose or watery stool, stomach cramps, upset stomach, and a slight fever. Some people have no symptoms.
Symptoms generally begin 2-10 days after being infected.
In persons with average immune systems, symptoms usually last about 2 weeks; the symptoms may go in cycles in which you may seem to get better for a few days, then feel worse, before the illness ends.
How is Crypto spread?
Crypto lives in the intestine of infected humans or animals. Millions of Crypto can be released in a bowel movement from 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. Crypto can be spread:
I have been diagnosed with Crypto. Should I worry about
spreading infection to others?
Yes, Crypto can be very contagious. Follow these guidelines to avoid spreading Crypto to others.
Although Crypto can infect all people, some groups are more likely to develop more serious illness. Young children and pregnant women may be more susceptible to the dehydration resulting from diarrhea and should drink plenty of fluids while ill.
If you have a severely weakened immune system, you are at risk for more serious disease. Your symptoms may be more severe and could lead to serious or life-threatening illness. Examples of persons with weakened immune systems include those with HIV/AIDS; cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs; and those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system. If you have a severely weakened immune system, consult with your health care provider for additional guidance. You can also call the CDC AIDS HOTLINE toll-free at 1-800-342-2437. Ask for more information on Cryptosporidiosis, or go to the CDC fact sheet Preventing Cryptosporidiosis: A Guide for People with Compromised Immune System
See your health care provider.
Your health care provider will ask you to submit stool samples to see if you are infected. Because testing for Crypto can be difficult, you may be asked to submit several stool specimens over several days. Because tests for Crypto are not routinely done in most laboratories, your health care provider should specifically request testing for the parasite.
There is no effective treatment. Most people with a healthy immune system will recover on their own. If you have diarrhea, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Rapid loss of fluids because of diarrhea can be life-threatening in babies; parents should consult their health care provider about fluid replacement therapy options for babies. Antidiarrheal medicine may help slow down diarrhea, but consult with your health care provider before taking it.
People who are in poor health or who have a weakened immune system are at higher risk for more severe and more prolonged illness. For persons with AIDS, anti-retroviral therapy that improves immune status will also decrease or eliminate symptoms of Crypto. However, Crypto is usually not cured and may come back if the immune status worsens. See your health care provider to discuss anti-retroviral therapy used to improve immune status.
Avoid water that might be contaminated.
Do not rely on chemical disinfection of Crypto because it is highly resistant to inactivation by chlorine or iodine.
Avoid food that might be contaminated.
Avoid fecal exposure during sex.
This fact sheet is for information only and is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the disease described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.
Search Specialists by State and City