Cryptosporidiosis - symptoms, causes and treatment
What is Cryptosporidiosis
An illness that results from INFECTION with the PARASITE Cryptosporidium parvum, which lives in the gastrointestinal tract of numerous animals and passes into the environment, primarily bodies of fresh water such as rivers and lakes, through the feces. The parasites form cysts that are highly resistant even to chemical disinfectants such as chlorine.
Symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis and Causes
People acquire infection with Cryptosporidium parvum through drinking or unintentionally swallowing (such as when swimming) contaminated water. The parasites may also be present in foods rinsed or prepared with contaminated water. The INCUBATION PERIOD is 2 to 10 days and the illness lasts about 2 weeks. During the incubation period and when symptoms are present, the infection is contagious and the person may pass it to others. Proper HAND WASHING and other PERSONAL HYGIENE measures are essential to reduce this risk.
The primary symptom of cryptosporidiosis is profuse, watery DIARRHEA. In addition to the diarrhea, many people have abdominal cramping and low-grade FEVER. Treatment is supportive, emphasizing fluid replacement to prevent DEHYDRATION due to the diarrhea. People who are IMMUNOCOMPROMISED may require hospitalization for adequate fluid replacement and medical management of the diarrhea. Most otherwise healthy people fully recover after the infection runs its course.