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Cryptosporidiosis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Nov 26, 2020 and last reviewed on Dec 09, 2020   -  4 min read


Cryptosporidiosis is a parasitic infection. Read this article to know more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

Cryptosporidiosis -  Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What Is Cryptosporidiosis?

Cryptosporidiosis is a condition caused by a parasite called cryptosporidium. This parasite lives in water, soil, and food. It can be seen on the surfaces that have been contaminated with feces. Cryptosporidium is a worldwide parasite and can be found in poor sanitation areas.

What Are the Symptoms?

The most characteristic symptom of cryptosporidiosis is watery diarrhea. Other symptoms include:

If you have watery diarrhea that is lasting for more than two days, you should contact your doctor immediately. The symptoms usually last for 30 days. Some patients are known to have a recurrence. Some people with cryptosporidiosis will not have any symptoms.

What Are the Risk Factors?

The risk factors of cryptosporidiosis are:

What Are the Causes and How Is It Transmitted?

Cryptosporidium species are known to reside in the infected individual’s intestine. It can also live in the intestine of animals. An infected animal or human excretes the parasite in the stools in the form of oocysts. In these stools, many oocysts are known to be released. Transmission occurs by swallowing the food or water which is contaminated with oocysts. Cryptosporidium oocysts are Chlorine-resistant and have resulted in several waterborne outbreaks. Even as low as 1 to 10 oocysts can lead to infection. Swallowing contaminated food and drinking water that is unhygienic can be the cause of transmission. The other reasons and routes of transmission are:

How Is It Diagnosed?

The doctor needs to observe the symptoms after an incubation period of 1 to 12 days. The doctor will ask you to take a sample of the stool. After the sample is collected, it is sent to the laboratory. The results of stool examination with modified AFB staining can reveal whether the parasite is present or not. The other tests that are useful to diagnosis are:

Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay: This test identifies antigens, antibodies, glycoproteins, and proteins. This method is trusted more in other branches of science like biotechnology and plant technology. This assay can be used as a diagnostic tool for dengue, malaria, HIV. This method efficiently detects the presence of an analyte. The analyte is the substance that is analyzed both by quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Immunochromatographic Assay: This is also called a lateral flow test. It uses a small amount of liquid to detect a particular agent. It is carried out with the help of chromatographic paper. This test has the potential to test a vast number of samples like urine, sweat, saliva, and serum. The immunochromatographic assay has done extensive miracles in veterinary science, food safety departments.

Immunofluorescent Assay: This technique is used to detect and visualize the filaments of the parasite. It uses light microscopy with a fluorescence microscope. It is used mainly on microbiological samples.

Ultrasound Imaging: Ultrasound scan of the intestine can reveal any inflammatory conditions of the intestine. There may be any dilation in the gallbladder or any irregularities in bile ducts.

Endoscopy and biopsy can reveal cryptosporidium in intestinal mucosal cells.

What Are the Treatment Options?

The treatment for cryptosporidiosis requires medications and certain lifestyle modifications.


Lifestyle Modification:

What Are the Preventative Measures?

There is no vaccination found to prevent cryptosporidiosis. The following are the ways to prevent it:

Are you facing any related problems? Call a doctor online and get a consultation through a voice call or video call.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Causes of Cryptosporidiosis?

Cryptosporidiosis can be caused due to the parasite called cryptosporidium. This cryptosporidium can be present in food, water, soil, or on the surfaces or hands, contaminated with feces of animals or humans infected with the parasite.


What Can Be the Symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis?

The symptoms of cryptosporidiosis can start within 2 to 10 days after being infected by the parasite cryptosporidium. The common symptoms of cryptosporidiosis are:
1. Watery diarrhea.
2. Stomach pain or cramps.
3. Nausea.
4. Vomiting.
5. Fever.
6. Dehydration.
7. Weight loss.


Can Cryptosporidium Go Away Permanently?

Cryptosporidium can cause watery diarrhea, even in healthy humans. The cryptosporidium infection will usually go away within a week or two. But in patients with a compromised immune system, this infection can cause life-threatening complications without treatment.


How Long Can Cryptosporidium Be Present in the Body?

Cryptosporidium infection symptoms, if present, can last for about two weeks and maybe longer sometimes. But even if you do not have any symptoms, the parasite can be passed in your stools for about 2 months, which has the risk of spreading the infection to others.


In What Type of Foods Is Cryptosporidium Found?

Cryptosporidium can be seen in vegetables, contaminated drinking water, irrigation water, fruit juices, raw meat, swimming pools, and unpasteurized milk. Cryptosporidiosis can also be seen in recreational water contaminated with humans and animals' feces and uncooked food contaminated with cryptosporidium.


What Is the Recovery Time for Cryptosporidium?

Infected people can recover from cryptosporidium infection within two weeks without any treatment. But in the case of immune-compromised patients, it can stay longer than that and cause life-threatening complications.


Can Cryptosporidium Cure on Its Own?

People with a healthy immune system can recover from cryptosporidiosis within two weeks without treatment, if they maintain a proper fluid level in the body by drinking plenty of water and avoiding dehydration. If the appropriate fluid level is not maintained, it can lead to severe health complications. People with a weakened immune system should also concentrate on getting back their immunity.


What Is The Test Done to Detect Cryptosporidiosis?

Acid staining test is done to diagnose cryptosporidiosis in stool samples. This cryptosporidium can be very difficult to detect, so that the doctor may ask for several stool samples at several days. Otherwise, a biopsy can be done by taking a tissue sample from the intestine.


Can Cryptosporidium Recur?

The recurrence rate of cryptosporidiosis is high in patients with a weakened immune system and low in people with a normal immune system. Cryptosporidiosis can recur due to reinfection with the parasite.


Can You Contract Cryptosporidium From an Infected Person?

Cryptosporidiosis cannot be contracted from an infected person directly through the blood. It can be contracted by touching the surfaces contaminated with cryptosporidium or accidentally swallowing the contaminated water. They can also be seen in the water, soil, and food contaminated with cryptosporidium.


How Can Cryptosporidium Get Into Drinking Water?

Cryptosporidium can get into the surface water sources like lakes and rivers from animals or human stools and contaminate it. The public water system which gets water from these resources can be contaminated and contain oocysts (an egg-like form of the parasite). Water can also be contaminated by sewage overflow or sewage that is not working properly.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
09 Dec 2020  -  4 min read




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