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    What Is Cryptosporidiosis?

    Cryptosporidium is an uncommon infection in foals caused by the parasitic Cryptosporidium parvum protozoan parasite. They are also thought to be an important cause of inflammatory bowel disease in humans and other animals.The oocyst stage of the parasitic organism can remain infective under cool, moist conditions for many months, especially where water temperatures in rivers, lakes, and ponds remain low but above freezing.

    Numerous reports of outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis related to drinking water in North America, the UK, and Japan, where detection methods are in place, indicate that water is a major vehicle for transmission of cryptosporidiosis. The chlorine-resistant tiny oocysts may contaminate drinking and recreational water, food, daycare centers, hospitals, and persons with exposure to animals or unsanitary conditions.

    Implicated Pathogens

    Cryptosporidium wrairi is a major protozoan parasite in the guinea pig, house mouse and chickens. Intestinal overgrowth of this organism may cause weight loss in adults and diarrhea and/or poor growth rates in weanlings and juveniles. Other species of Cryptosporidium are infectious to domestic cats, turkey and fish. Recent studies proved that Cryptosporidium felis is also infectious to humans and cattle.

    Cryptosporidiosis is a cause of disease and mortality in animals and humans, resulting primarily in diarrhea, and causing the most severe infections in immune-compromised individuals. Of 15 named species of Cryptosporidium infectious for nonhuman animal hosts C. baileyiC. canisC. felis. hominisC. meleagridisC. muris, and C. parvum have been reported to also infect humans.

    Humans are the primary hosts for C. hominis, and except for C. parvum, which is widespread amongst animals and is the most frequently reported zoonotic species, the remaining species have been reported primarily in people with a weakened immune system. Studies suggest that Cryptosporidium hominis is spread only between humans. Outbreaks of the clinical disease can be partially controlled by the addition of 0.2% sulfamethazine to the water supply.

    Signs & Symptoms

    Cryptosporidiosis usually is not fatal, unless complicated by other infections. Signs include mild to moderate diarrhea for several days ragardless of treatment. Feces are yellow or pale and contain mucus. Some people with crypto will have no symptoms at all. Cryptosporidium can be very contagious. Infected individuals should follow the guidelines to avoid spreading the disease to others.


    Cryptosporidium lives in the intestine of infected humans or animals. Millions of crypto parasites can be released in a bowel movement from an infected human or animal. Consequently, Cryptosporidium is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected human or animal feces. A person becomes infected by swallowing Cryptosporidium parasites. You cannot become infected through contact with blood. Crypto can be spread:

    • Water in swimming pools, hot tubs, Jacuzzis, fountains, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, or streams that can be contaminated with sewage or feces from humans or animals
    • Eating uncooked food contaminated with Crypto
    • Touching your mouth with contaminated hands
    Video Credits: VetMedAcademy


    1. Ronald Fayer, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service – Cryptosporidium: A Water-borne Zoonotic Parasite
    2. Paul R. Huntera, R.C. Andrew Thompsonb – The Zoonotic Transmission Of Giardia And Cryptosporidium
    3. Rebecca A. Dillinghama, Aldo A. Limab and Richard L. Guerrant – Cryptosporidiosis: Epidemiology And Impact
    4. CDC, Division of Parasitic Diseases – Cryptosporidium Infection Cryptosporidiosis


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