What is Cryptosporidium?
Cryptosporidium (krip-toe-spo-rid-ee-um), often referred to as
"crypto," is a microscopic parasite that can live in the
intestines of humans and animals. 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.
after infection do symptoms appear?
generally begin 2-10 days after being infected.
the symptoms of crypto?
include diarrhea, loose or watery stool, stomach cramps, upset stomach,
and a slight fever. Some people have no symptoms.
will symptoms last?
will last about 2 weeks; you may seem to get better, then worse. Once you
feel better, you continue to pass Cryptosporidium in your stool for
up to 2 months. During this 2-month period you may spread the infection to
Am I at
risk for severe disease?
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 Internet site: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/list_crp.htm
should I do if I think I have crypto?
health care provider.
How is an
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.
effectively. Most people with a healthy immune system will recover on
their own. People who are in poor health or who have a weakened immune
system are at higher risk for more severe illness. If you have diarrhea,
drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Rapid loss of fluids due to
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.
cryptosporidiosis spread ?
accidentally swallowing anything that has come in contact with the
stool of a person or animal with crypto.
swallowing water contaminated with crypto. A person can swallow a crypto
oocyst (oh-oh-sist), the infectious stage of the parasite, by
swallowing water from swimming pools, hot tubs, jacuzzis, lakes,
rivers, springs, ponds, or streams contaminated with sewage or feces
from humans or animals.
eating uncooked food contaminated with crypto. Thoroughly wash with
water all vegetables and fruits you plan to eat raw. See below for
information on making water safe.
accidentally swallowing crypto picked up from surfaces (i.e., toys,
bathroom fixtures, changing tables, diaper pails) contaminated with
stool from an infected person.
How can I
your hands with soap and water after using the toilet, changing
diapers, and before eating or preparing food.
water or food that may be contaminated.
and/or peel all raw vegetables and fruits before eating.
drinking water from lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, or streams unless
it has been filtered and chemically treated.
community-wide outbreaks caused by contaminated drinking water, boil
drinking water for 1 minute to kill the crypto parasite and make the
water safe to drink.
traveling in countries where the water supply may be unsafe, avoid
drinking unboiled tap water and avoid uncooked foods washed with
unboiled tap water. Pasteurized fruit drinks are safe to drink, as are
steaming hot coffee and tea.
here to find out how to choose bottled water that is also safe to
- In the
United States, nationally distributed brands of bottled or canned
carbonated soft drinks are safe to drink. Commercially packaged
noncarbonated soft drinks and fruit juices that do not require
refrigeration until after they are opened (e.g. those that can be
stored unrefrigerated on grocery shelves) also are safe.
swimming in pools if you have crypto and for at least 2 weeks after
diarrhea stops. You can pass crypto in your stool and contaminate
water for several weeks after you no longer have symptoms. This has
resulted in several outbreaks of crypto among pool users. Crypto can
survive in chlorinated pools for several days.
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.