Cryptosporidiosis or cryptosporidian infection is a disease caused by very small single-celled parasites called cryptosporidia that travel to the small intestine and then nest in the walls of the intestines. They finally leave the body through feces. The parasite is not killed by freezing or killed by normal levels of chlorine in swimming pools or drinking water.
Generally, cryptosporidian infection causes episodes of diarrhea for a couple of weeks, but if the patient has a weak immune system, the infection can worsen and cause death in extreme cases.
The infection can arrive through various routes, coming into contact with cryptosporidia by touching something that has been in contact with contaminated feces, such as drinking or bathing in contaminated water, eating contaminated food or being in contact with infected people or animals.
For two weeks, symptoms such as the following occur:
- Watery diarrhea with the presence of mucus.
- Nausea and vomiting
The doctor requires laboratory analysis of a stool sample to be certain of the diagnosis.
There is no standard treatment for cryptosporidiosis and recovery time depends on the state of the patient's immune system. The normal thing is to heal in two weeks without the need for treatment. People with a weak immune system will need treatment with antiparasitic drugs and perhaps antiretroviral therapies.
Cryptosporidium infection is contagious, so extreme measures must be taken to prevent the spread of the disease. It is essential to maintain good body hygiene; do not drink water that could be contaminated; boil drinking water when an alert occurs, including for washing food or brushing teeth. You should also avoid consuming unpasteurized milk and juices and avoid raw foods.