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ICD9 = | ICDO = | Image = Cryptosporidium muris.jpg | Caption = Cryptosporidium muris | OMIM = | OMIM_mult = | MedlinePlus = | eMedicineSubj = med | eMedicineTopic = 484 | DiseasesDB = 3221 |Cryptosporidiosis is a parasitic disease affecting the intestines of mammals that is caused by Cryptosporidium, a protozoan parasite in the phylum Apicomplexa. It is a disease spread through the fecal-oral route; the main symptom is self-limiting diarrhea in people with intact immune system. In immunocompromised individuals, such as AIDS patients, infection can cause permanent & life-threatening diarrhea. Despite not being identified until 1976 it is one of the most common waterborne diseases and is found worldwide.
Transmission Infection is through contaminated material such as earth, water, uncooked or cross-contaminated food that has been in contact with the feces of an infected individual or animal. Contact must then be transferred to the mouth and swallowed. It is especially prevalent amongst those in regular contact with bodies of fresh water whether through work or recreation.The source can be recreational water like swimming pools, contaminated water supplies, or contaminated food. The high resistance of Cryptosporidium oocysts to disinfectants like chlorine bleach facilitates transmission of the disease. Some outbreaks have happened in day care related to diaper changes.
Symptoms Symptoms appear from two to ten days after infection and last for up to two weeks or so. As well as watery diarrhea there is often stomach pains or cramps and a low fever. Some individuals are asymptomatic (have no symptoms) but are still infective and thus can pass on the infection to others. Even after symptoms have finally subsided that individual is still infective for some weeks.
Severe disease, including pancreatitis, can occur.Treatment is primarily supportive. Fluids need to be replaced with oral rehydration. A lactose free diet should be taken as tolerated. In rare situations, intravenous fluids may be required. Antibiotics are not usually helpful, and are primarily reserved for persons with severe disease and a weak immune system. Sometimes relapses happen. Prevention is through washing hands carefully after going to the bathroom or contacting stool, and before eating. If the water supply is in question, the water can be boiled or carefully filtered before drinking.
Treatment The majority of immuno-competent individuals suffer a short (less than 2 weeks) self limiting course that requires supportive care with re-hydration and occasionally anti-diarrhoeal medication. In immuno-incompetent individuals (including some with HIV/AIDS) anti-retroviral therapy has been associated with improved outcomes. Several drug trials with high dose azithromycin look promising.
Infectious agents A number of species of Cryptosporidium infect mammals. In humans the main causes of disease are C. parvum and C. hominis (previously C. parvum genotype 1). C. canis, C. felis, C. meleagridis, and C. muris can also cause disease in humans.
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