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
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
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
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
- 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
in this category that provide the greatest assurance
of Cryptosporidium removal include those that use reverse
- OUR FILTERS WILL SAFELY
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