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Cryptosporidium infection: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About cryptosporidium infection

Cryptosporidium infection also called ‘cryptosporidiosis’ is a short-lasting infection of the digestive system. It is caused by a parasite called cryptosporidium which usually spreads from person to person through the faecal-oral route.

Cryptosporidium infection: Incidence, age and sex

Cryptosporidium infection is quite seldom seen in the developed regions. It is usually encountered in individuals residing in developing regions.

Signs and symptoms of cryptosporidium infection: Diagnosis

The clinical features of cryptosporidium infection appear a week after exposure and may be abrupt in onset. Diarrhoea which is the predominant feature is watery and copious. It may be accompanied with cramping pain of abdomen, nausea or vomiting. Fever is characteristically absent in this parasitic infection. Stool test which shall show cryptosporidium eggs may be done to confirm the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention of cryptosporidium infection

Cryptosporidium infection is caused by a single celled parasite called cryptosporidium, which generally affects humans but animals can also be infected. In fact domestic animals, if infected may act as reservoir of infection. Cryptosporidium infection is a water borne infection which can easily be spread by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Direct contact with infected animal or its products may also lead to cryptosporidiosis in occasional individuals. Individuals working in slaughter houses, farmers and vets may be at an increased risk of acquiring this infection.

Certain preventive measures like maintaining good personal hygiene, adequate sanitation, consuming boiled or filtered water, refraining from consumption of unpasteurized milk and its products or using protective equipment while working among animals, may go a long way in averting cryptosporidium infection.

Cryptosporidium infection: Complications

Cryptosporidium infection usually does not result in any serious health concerns in otherwise healthy individuals. However it may cause malnutrition, excessive weight loss or even bowel perforation in individuals who are immuno-compromised such as HIV positive patients.

Cryptosporidium infection: Treatment

Cryptosporidium infection is a short-lasting and self-limiting infection which may resolve within 2 to 3 weeks. The treatment includes adequate rehydration by consuming excess water and fluids to compensate for fluid loss due to diarrhoea. Anti- parasitic medications may be prescribed but they do not show much benefit.