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Cryptosporidiosis, is a parasitic disease caused by Cryptosporidium, a genus of protozoan parasites in the phylum Apicomplexa. It affects the distal small intestine and can affect the respiratory tract in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised individuals, resulting in watery diarrhea with or without an unexplained cough.[1]


Cryptosporidiosis presents with the following symptoms in an affected individual:watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration, vomiting, fever and weight loss.[2]


Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a parasite known as Cryptosporidium, and the most common species that causes cryptosporidiosis in people are Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis.[3]


Infection is through contaminated material such as water, uncooked or cross-contaminated food that has been in contact with the feces of an infected individual or animal. It is especially prevalent amongst those in regular contact with bodies of fresh water including recreational water such as swimming pools. Other potential sources include insufficiently treated water supplies, contaminated food, or exposure to feces.[4]


The oocysts are ovoid and measure 5 to 6 micrometers across, each contains up to 4 sporozoites that are bow-shaped.[5]The parasite is located in the brush border of the epithelial cells of the small intestine.[6] They are mainly located in the jejunum. When the sporozoites attach, the epithelial cells’ membrane envelops them. The parasite can cause damage to the microvilli where it attaches.[5] The infected individual excretes the most oocysts during the first week.[7]


In terms of the diagnosis we find that it is done via examination of stool samples. This is achieved microscopically using either acid-fast staining, direct fluorescent antibody or enzyme immunoassays.[8]


Symptomatic treatment primarily involves fluid rehydration, electrolyte replacement, and antimotility agents such as loperamide.[9][10] Immunocompetent individuals,as opposed to immunocompromised, have nitazoxanide which is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic medication prescribed for their infection.[3]


Cryptosporidiosis is found worldwide. In developing countries, 8 to 19 percent of diarrheal diseases can be attributed to Cryptosporidium.[11]Roughly 30 percent of adults in the United States are seropositive for cryptosporidiosis, meaning that they contracted the infection at some point in their lives.[12]


  1. Sponseller JK, Griffiths JK, Tzipori S (2014). "The evolution of respiratory Cryptosporidiosis: evidence for transmission by inhalation". Clin. Microbiol. Rev. 27 (3): 575–86. doi:10.1128/CMR.00115-13. PMC 4135895. PMID 24982322.
  2. Prevention, CDC-Centers for Disease Control and (24 November 2021). "CDC - Cryptosporidiosis - Disease". Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Janssen, Baily; Snowden, Jessica (2024). "Cryptosporidiosis". StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
  4. "Cryptosporidium: Sources of Infection & Risk Factors". United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1 April 2015. Archived from the original on 18 March 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Winn Jr., Washington; Allen, Stephen; Janda, William; Koneman, Elmer; Procop, Gary; Schreckenberger, Paul; Woods, Gail (2006). Koneman's Color Atlas and Textbook of Diagnostic Microbiology (6th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 1267–70.
  6. Brooks, Geo. F.; Butel, Janet S.; Morse, Stephen A. (2004). Jawetz, Melnick, & Adelberg's Medical Microbiology (23rd ed.). New York: Lange Medical Books/McGraw Hill. pp. 684–5. ISBN 9780071412070.
  7. Ryan, Kenneth J.; Ray, C. George (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology: An Introduction to Infectious Disease (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 727–730.
  8. "CDC - Cryptosporidiosis - Diagnosis". 3 December 2021. Retrieved 2 May 2024.
  9. Cabada MM, White AC, Venugopalan P, Sureshbabu J (18 August 2015). Bronze MS (ed.). "Cryptosporidiosis Treatment & Management". Medscape. WebMD. Retrieved 8 January 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. Abubakar I, Aliyu SH, Arumugam C, Hunter PR, Usman NK (January 2007). "Prevention and treatment of cryptosporidiosis in immunocompromised patients" (PDF). Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD004932. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004932.pub2. PMID 17253532. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  11. Gatei W, Wamae CN, Mbae C, et al. (July 2006). "Cryptosporidiosis: prevalence, genotype analysis, and symptoms associated with infections in children in Kenya". Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 75 (1): 78–82. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2006.75.78. PMID 16837712.
  12. Ali S, Mumar S, Kalam K, Raja K, Baqi S (2014). "Prevalence, clinical presentation and treatment outcome of cryptosporidiosis in immunocompetent adult patients presenting with acute diarrhoea". J Pak Med Assoc. 64 (6): 613–8. PMID 25252476.