Reepa Agrawal
First Author
Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B.J.Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India

First Created: 03/05/2001  Last Updated: 02/22/2023

Patient Education

What is cryptosporidium?

Cryptosporidium (pronounced as crypt-o-spore-e-dium) is a germ that mainly affects children and malnourished and immunocompromised people. It mainly leads to diarrhea. Disease caused by cryptosporidium is called as cryptosporidiosis (pronounced as crypt-o-spore-e-d-o-sis).

How does cryptosporidium spread?

Cryptosporidium is excreted in stools of infected humans and animals and the cryptosporidium parasite is found in contaminated drinking water, recreational water, soil, and food. It spreads by the consumption of contaminated food and water.

What are the symptoms of cryptosporidiosis?

The most common symptom is watery diarrhea. Diarrhea may be severe enough to cause dehydration and weight loss. Sometimes patients may have tummy pain, fever, vomiting, nausea, muscle aches and fatigue. Diarrhea may last for 2-10 days. In patients with poor immunity, diarrhea may be persistent.

How is cryptosporidiosis diagnosed?

It's not easy to detect cryptosporidium and multiple stool samples need to be tested. Special molecular tests can be done for detection of cryptosporidium.

What is the treatment for cryptosporidiosis?

Most of the people who have a healthy immune system can recover without treatment. Avoid dehydration, drink lots of water. A medicine called nitazoxanide is used if severe diarrhea especially if someone has low immunity.

How can be cryptosporidiosis prevented?

It is a very contagious disease. Wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet. Alcohol based hand sanitisers are not effective.Drink boiled and filtered water and eat cooked food. Maintain good personal hygiene. Avoid swallowing recreational water. Avoid sending kids with diarrhea to daycare/ childcare settings.

Is there any vaccine to prevent cryptosporidiosis?

There is no vaccine to prevent cryptosporidiosis.

Cryptosporidium Cryptosporidium 2023-02-22
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