From WikiMD's Health & Wellness Encyclopedia

Cryptosporidiosis is an illness caused by the parasite, ''Cryptosporidium''. The condition is most commonly associated with watery diarrhea.

Signs and symptoms

signs and symptoms may include watery diarrhea,dehydration, weight loss, stomach cramps, fever, nausea and/or vomiting. Less common or rare signs and symptoms include:


Life cycle of Cryptosporidium spp.

Cryptosporidium is a genus of protozoan pathogens which is categorized under the phylum Apicomplexa. Cryptosporidiosis occurs when the parasite enters the body, often through contaminated food and water or because of poor handwashing hygiene. Cryptosporidium is capable of completing its life cycle within a single host, resulting in microbial cyst stages that are excreted in feces and are capable of transmission to a new host via the fecal-oral route. Other vectors of disease transmission also exist.

Risk factors

Although cryptosporidiosis can affect all people, young children, pregnant women and people with severely weakened immune systems(i.e those with AIDS;Cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs; and those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system) are likely to develop a more serious illness.


There are many diagnostic tests for Cryptosporidium. They include microscopy, staining, and detection of antibodies. There are several techniques to concentrate either the stool sample or the oocysts. Other staining techniques include acid-fast staining. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is another way to diagnose cryptosporidiosis. It can even identify the specific species of Cryptosporidium.


Medications such as nitazoxanide have been used to treat diarrhea in both adults and children. However, most people who have healthy immune systems will recover without treatment.

The medication(s) listed below have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as orphan products for treatment of this condition. Nitazoxanide (Brand name: Alinia®)Treatment of diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia


Many treatment plants that take raw water from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs for public drinking water production use conventional filtration technologies. This involves a series of processes, including coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration. Direct filtration, which is typically used to treat water with low particulate levels, includes coagulation and filtration, but not sedimentation. Other common filtration processes, including slow sand filters, diatomaceous earth filters and membranes will remove 99% of Cryptosporidium.

The most reliable way to decontaminate drinking water that may be contaminated by Cryptosporidium is to boil it.


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