Cryptosporidium Enteritis

What is Cryptosporidium Enteritis?

A Cryptosporidium enteritis is caused by the entry of a microscopic parasite into the system. It affects the small intestine and mainly causes diarrhea. This form of enteritis is acute but short-term.

Cryptosporidium parasites are very durable, with research proving they can live in and outside the body for great lengths of time. They are very tolerant to chlorine and other water disinfectants.

Children, as well as adults with comprised immune systems (such as AIDS patients), are considered the highest risk in contracting the disease and experiencing severe symptoms that might even be lethal.

Since Cryptosporidium can be found in animals, farm laborers and veterinary health professionals can contract the parasite via their contact with animal stools or contaminated water.

What are the Symptoms of Cryptosporidium Enteritis?

In the past few decades, Cryptosporidium has been recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne illness (transmission through recreational water –at pools, water parks- and drinking water) in the United States. The parasite can be found in every single region across the globe.

A person infected with cryptosporidium can develop cryptosporidiosis.

Symptoms include

Cryptosporidium Enteritis symptoms can last for a week or two and they may go in cycles. Some of the symptoms may improve for a few days, and then worsen before a person then starts to feel relief.

Cryptosporidium Causes

Cryptosporidium enteritis develops most commonly in those subjects suffering from a compromised immune system, as is the case when medications are taken that can suppress immune system functions. Also, those who have tested positive for the HIV virus and those who have recently undergone organ transplants can more easily contract the disease.

The most common risk factor for contracting cryptosporidium enteritis is drinking water that has been contaminated with feces. Contact with feces is also likely in cases where one works as an animal handler or during anal sex. Additionally, people who come in close contact with others already infected or with small children are likely to be exposed to the conditions necessary for contracting this illness. In cases where outbreaks affect a larger number of persons, the contamination may have been present in a public water supply or in a public swimming facility. Drinking unpasteurized cider can also induce cryptosporidium enteritis.

How is Cryptosporidium Enteritis Treated?

Some people can recover from this debilitating illness without the need for medication. A person should do all they can to keep eating and drink lots of fluids. A prescription may be required in combination with anti-diarrheal medications and pain medications for relief.

Cryptosporidium Prevention

The key to preventing exposure to cryptosporidium enteritis is good personal hygiene. In washing hands, it’s recommended that, after rinsing one’s hands, soap be applied thoroughly and worked into a deep, rich lather, scrubbing for a minimum of 20 seconds. Finally, rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean towel.

This is recommended before preparing and/or eating food, after using the toilet, after changing a child or cleaning a child who has used a bathroom, before and after caring for someone experiencing diarrhoea, handling animals (or their stool), and after gardening.

Additionally, avoid untreated waters that may be contaminated, such as lakes and streams, and be wary of public swimming pools. If an individual has had an attack of diarrhea, he/she should not go swimming for at least two weeks. Young children and infants should be taken for bathroom breaks every 30-60 minutes.

It’s also suggested that contact with feces during sex should be prevented through the use of barriers. Acceptable devices include condoms, natural rubber latex sheets, or dental dams.

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Last Reviewed:
September 20, 2016
Last Updated:
December 11, 2017
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