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Cryptosporidiosis

(Crypto)

Definition

Cryptosporidiosis is an intestinal infection. It can cause severe diarrhea in some people.
Most healthy adults recover from this infection in a few weeks. However, it can be life threatening for young children, the elderly, and very sick people. Cryptosporidosis can be especially difficult in those with compromised immune systems.
The Intestines
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Causes

Cryptosporidosis is an infection caused by a parasite. The parasite enters the body by being swallowed. Once in the intestine, the parasite comes out of its shell and multiplies. You can come in contact with the parasite through:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of cryptosporidiosis infection include:

Symptoms

Most of the time, exposed people will not have symptoms. Symptoms that do occur usually begin about a week after the infection and may include:

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will be asked for one or more stool samples. The samples will be sent to a lab to look for the parasite.

Treatment

Most of the time your body will get rid of this infection on its own. People with healthy immune systems usually recover without needing treatment. People with a weakened immune system, like those with AIDS, have a greater risk of getting this infection. The infection is also more likely to be more severe and last longer.
Recovery can take several weeks. If you have severe diarrhea, you may be given:

Prevention

There are several important measures you can take to lower your risk of cryptosporidiosis:
If you are infected with cryptosporidiosis, avoid spreading the infection to others by:

RESOURCES

American Medical Association http://www.ama-assn.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian HIV/AIDS Information Centre http://www.cpha.ca

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Cryptosporidiosis. New York Department of Health website. Available at: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/cryptosporidiosis/fact%5Fsheet.htm. Updated October 2011. Accessed May 16, 2013.

Cryptosporidium infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto. Updated January 16, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.

Foodborne illnesses. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 20, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.

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