PUBLIC HEALTH FACT SHEET
What is Cryptosporidiosis?
Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites. Once an animal or person has become infected, the parasite lives in the intestine and passes in the stool. The parasite can survive outside the body for long periods of time and is very resistant to chlorine-based disinfectants.
How is Cryptosporidiosis spread?
Cryptosporidiosis is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected human or animal feces. A person becomes infected by swallowing the parasite which can happen in many different ways:
- Swallowing recreational water that has been contaminated with Cryptosporidium from pools, hot tubs, lakes, fountains, rivers, springs, ponds, and streams
- Eating uncooked contaminated food. Be sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables and fruits
- Swallowing Cryptosporidium from contaminated surfaces like bathrooms, diaper pails, and toys
How long after exposure until symptoms begin and how long is a person contagious?
Symptoms usually begin 2-10 days after exposure and last 1-2 weeks. An infected person should avoid recreational water until two weeks after symptoms resolve.
How is Cryptosporidiosis treated?
There is no specific treatment and no cure for Cryptosporidiosis. The treatment is supportive care to prevent dehydration from fluid loss due to diarrhea and vomiting. Eating a well-balanced diet may help speed recovery. Over the counter anti-diarrheal medication may help with diarrhea, but a health care provider should be consulted before such medication is taken, particularly in children.
How can Cryptosporidiosis be prevented?
- Practice good handwashing after toileting or diaper changing and before eating or preparing food
- Do not drink untreated water or swallow recreational water
- Wash linens, clothing, dishwasher or dryer safe toys, etc. soiled with vomit or diarrhea as soon as possible
Symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis
- Watery diarrhea
- Stomach cramping and pain
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Weight loss