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What is cryptosporidiosis?
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes diarrhea in humans and animals. When a person gets sick, the infection is called cryptosporidiosis. Once infected, the parasite lives in the intestine and passes in the stool. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as “crypto.”
What are the signs and symptoms?
Signs and symptoms usually appear 1 to 12 days after exposure to the germ and include:
- Watery diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Stomach cramps or pain
Some people who have cryptosporidiosis may not have any symptoms.
How is it spread?
Cryptosporidium is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected human or animal feces. If a person swallows the parasite they become infected.
The parasite can be spread by:
- Drinking poorly treated water from streams, rivers, lakes, or shallow wells.
- Swallowing contaminated water while swimming in lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, swimming pools, and hot tubs. Note: cryptosporidium is chlorine-resistant and can live for days in chlorine treated water.
- Eating or drinking contaminated food or drink.
- Touching the feces of infected humans (e.g., after diaper changing, during sexual contact) or a infected animal and not washing hands properly afterwards.
- People with or without symptoms can spread germs.
How can I prevent getting cryptosporidiosis?
Proper handwashing with soap and warm water is the best way to prevent infections. Always wash your hands:
- Before and after preparing food.
- Before eating.
- After using the toilet.
- After gardening, even if wearing gloves. The parasite is found in soil, dirt, and water.
- After having contact with pets, animals, and their environment (i.e.,litter boxes, bird cages, petting zoos).
- Drink water from a safe water supply, especially when travelling.
- Do not drink or swallow water from open lakes, streams, or outside taps.
Should I see a health care provider?
Yes, contact your health care provider if you think you or your child has cryptosporidiosis.