Domestic and Commercial Reverse Osmosis Water Filters

A Look At Cryptosporidiosis


What is cryptosporidiosis?

Cryptosporidiosis is a disease caused by an intestinal parasite. Watery diarrhoea and often abdominal cramping are the major symptoms. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weight loss and low-grade fever. In some patients, symptoms will come and go and in other patients they will be persistent. Symptoms usually occur about a week after exposure, but can begin as soon as one day or as late as 12 days after exposure.

How do you get cryptosporidiosis?

The parasite Cryptosporidium parvum is found in the faeces of infected animals and people. Persons, dogs and cats become infected when they swallow this parasite. This is one reason why hands should be washed after contact with pets. Hands also should be washed after changing a child's diaper and after using the toilet. Other activities that bring a person in contact with faeces of another person can result in exposure. The parasite, which can be present in sewage or runoff from feed lots, can contaminate water sources, and several large waterborne outbreaks have occurred. Outbreaks also have occurred in child day care centres. In Illinois, 75-100 cases of cryptosporidiosis are reported annually.

How serious is cryptosporidiosis?

Symptoms can last for up to 30 days in persons who are otherwise healthy. In persons with weakened immune systems, including people with HIV/AIDS and cancer, transplant patients taking immunosuppressive drugs and people with genetically weakened immune systems, symptoms can persist indefinitely. Persistent diarrhoea due to cryptosporidiosis in these persons can lead to death.

How is cryptosporidiosis treated?

There is no effective cure for cryptosporidiosis. Persons with this disease should drink plenty of fluids and get extra rest. Physicians may prescribe medication to slow the diarrhoea during recovery.

What should I do to protect myself against cryptosporidiosis?

  • Wash hands after handling pets or other animals.
  • Wash hands after handling items that might be contaminated with the faeces of other persons.
  • Wash hands before preparing or handling food.
  • Wash hands after gardening or other contact with soil.
  • Wash produce thoroughly before eating.
  • Avoid unpasteurised milk or milk products.
  • Avoid exposure to calves and lambs and places where these animals are raised.
  • Avoid drinking water directly from rivers, lakes and streams.

Are public water supplies free of Cryptosporidium?

Not necessarily. Cryptosporidium is common in the lakes and rivers that many public water supplies use. It is highly resistant to disinfection and even well-operated water treatment systems cannot ensure that drinking water will be completely free of Cryptosporidium.

Should I drink water from the public water supply?

If an outbreak of waterborne cryptosporidiosis is occurring in your community, boil water before drinking, drink bottled water, or drink water that has passed through a special filter. These protective measures must be used consistently in order to protect against infection.

What are my choices if my doctor advises me not to drink regular tap water?

  • Boil water before drinking or before using it for cooking by bringing it to a rolling boil for three minutes.
  • Use a "point-of-use" (personal use, end-of-tap, under sink) filter. Only point-of-use filters that reduce particles one micrometer or less in diameter should be considered. Filters in this category that provide the greatest assurance of Cryptosporidium removal include those that use reverse osmosis.


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