key2health By key2health, 18th Mar 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Diseases & Infections

Inspired by my 12 year old daughter's First Place Science Fair Project, this article will teach you about Cryptosporidium, also known as Crypto, and help you gain an understanding of what it is, where it comes from, symptoms, how it can be spread, who is at risk, diagnosis, treatment options available, and prevention.

Intestinal Parasite - Cryptosporidium

Cryptosporidium (also known as Crypto) is a very contagious microscopic parasite in the intestines that affects humans and animals and can end in death if not treated properly. Although the parasite is worldwide, you are at greater risk to become infected with this parasite if travelling to developing countries that have poor sanitation. An infected person or animal releases the Crypto through their feces.

The most common symptom of having this parasite in your intestines is a combination of watery diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, and loss of appetite may also occur. On occasion, some people may not become ill. However, people with weak immune systems may develop a serious and sometimes fatal illness such as people with HIV/AIDS, those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system, cancer chemotherapy patients, kidney dialysis patients, and organ transplant patients who are taking immune-suppressive drugs.

Crypto can be spread in several different ways. if you drink contaminated water, unpasteurized cider or swim in contaminated waters or lakes, you can pick up this parasite in your system. Crypto is not spread through contact with blood, but through fecal matter. The most common method of spreading Crypto is swallowing water contaminated with feces. After exposure to this parasite, the incubation period of Crypto ranges from 1 – 12 days with an average of 7 days.

Children, parents of infected children,and people who work in daycares and school environments are at greatest risk in contacting this intestinal parasite. International travellers such as backpackers, hikers, and campers who drink or swim in unfiltered, untreated, or contaminated waters may be at risk to contact Crypto. People who handle infected cattle or livestock and are exposed to human or animal feces are at risk every day for contacting it.

Crypto is diagnosed in different ways. It can be tested through an antibody test of the stool, an intestinal biopsy, a stool exam with special techniques called AFB Staining, and for people with weakened immune systems, a stool ova and parasite exam using a microscope.

There are several treatments options available for those contaminated with Crypto. Some people with healthy immune systems can recover without treatments. However, for those adults and children who are unable to recover on their own, Doctors can prescribe anti-diarrhea medicine (Nitazoxanide Drugs) such as Atovaquone and Paromomycin. Anti-diarrhea medicine may help slow down diarrhea, but these drugs may only help for a little while. Sometimes the infection may return. People with weaker immune systems are at higher risk for more severe illness. Doctors will prescribe highly active antiviral therapy to help them go into remission.

In order to prevent Crypto, the most important thing to remember is practice good sanitation and hygiene and stay away from all fecal matter! Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, rubbing hands together vigorously and scrubbing all surfaces before preparing or eating food, after using the toilet, after changing diapers or cleaning up after a child uses the toilet, before and after tending to someone who is ill with diarrhea, and after handling an animal or animal waste. Be sure to wash hands after gardening, even if you are wearing gloves.

Understanding what Crypto is and what can be done to decrease your risk of being infected with this parasite is vital to keeping your intestines healthy, especially if you frequently travel or come into contact with potentially contaminated sources.

moderator Steve Kinsman moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Kingwell
10th Apr 2013 (#)

An excellent share and congratulations to your daughter.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?