What is cryptosporidiosis?

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Cryptosporidiosis is an infection affecting the intestines caused by the protozoa Cryptosporidium. It is characterized by episodes of diarrhea and abdominal cramping. The Cryptosporidium are protozoans that infect humans and animals all over the world.

How can I become infected?

  • Ingestion of parasites in food or water contaminated by animal or human feces
  • Contact with soil, an individual or an object that has been contaminated by the parasite

An individual can gain the infection if they unintentionally ingest contaminated water from water parks, swimming pools, lakes or hot tubs.

It is important to note that cryptosporidiosis is the usual trigger of diarrhea among children who live in emerging areas where the sanitation is meagre. It infrequently occurs among those who travel to these areas. Those who have a weakened immune system especially those with AIDS are susceptible to the condition and likely to develop a severe and persistent case.

Remember that the eggs of cryptosporidium are highly resilient and frequently present in surface water. The parasite is not eliminated by freezing or by the usual amount of chlorine used in swimming pools or drinking water.

Indications of cryptosporidiosis

The symptoms of cryptosporidiosis might abruptly start about 7 days after an individual is infected and includes abdominal cramping and profuse, watery diarrhea. Other symptoms include appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, fever and weakness. Take note that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and then subside.

Cryptosporidiosis
Other symptoms include appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, fever and weakness.

Among those who have a declining immune system, the symptoms might start in a gradual manner and the diarrhea can vary from mild or severe and even persist for a long time.

Prevention

Cryptosporidiosis can be prevented with proper sanitation and regular hand washing. It is not advisable to drink or swallow water that might be contaminated such as from a swimming pool, lake or stream in areas where the sanitation is poor.

Management

Among those who have a healthy immune system, they can recover on their own. In case there is persistent diarrhea, an antiparasitic drug might be given to hasten the recovery.

If an individual has AIDS, the treatment is aimed on treating the HIV infection. If the treatment strengthens the weakened immune system, diarrhea is minimized. The doctor will provide high doses of nitazoxanide. Nevertheless, unless the immune system issue is fixed, diarrhea will continue throughout life.

Those who have severe diarrhea might require treatment with fluids given orally or intravenously along with anti-diarrheal medications such as loperamide. Nevertheless, it will not help individuals with AIDS.

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