WHAT IS IT?
Cryptosporidiosis (Crypto) is a gastrointestinal illness caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium (Crypto). A parasite is an organism that feeds off another to survive. It is found on surfaces or in soil, food, or water that has been contaminated with feces from infected humans or animals. Crypto is a leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the United States. Crypto infection rates have been known to go up during late summer and early fall. Crypto can be spread by:
- Swallowing recreational water (for example, the water in swimming pools, fountains, lakes, rivers) contaminated with Crypto
- Drinking untreated water from a lake or river that is contaminated with Crypto
- Swallowing water, ice, or beverages contaminated with poop from infected humans or animals
- Eating undercooked food or drinking unpasteurized/raw apple cider or milk that gets contaminated with Crypto
- Touching your mouth with contaminated hands
- Hands can become contaminated through a variety of activities, such as touching surfaces or objects (e.g., toys, bathroom fixtures, changing tables, diaper pails) that have been contaminated by poop from an infected person, changing diapers, caring for an infected person, and touching an infected animal
- Exposure to poop from an infected person through oral-anal sexual contact
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- Watery Diarrhea
- Abdominal cramps
- Weight loss
It generally begins 2 to 10 days after becoming infected with the parasite. Symptoms usually last 1 to 2 weeks but can come and go for up to 30 days.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent Crypto. There is no known effective drug for treatment. Most people who have healthy immune systems will recover without treatment. Ill people should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
You can help prevent the spread of Crypto by:
- Practicing good hygiene
- Frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water, especially after toilet visits, changing diapers, before eating, or preparing food.
- Not swimming in public pools or bodies of water for at least 2 weeks after the diarrhea stops. It is possible to contaminate water just by immersion in the water.
- Children with diarrhea should be excluded from childcare.
- Boiling your water for 1 minute during community-wide outbreaks. Let water cool before drinking
- Using a filter that has been rated by the National Safety Foundation (NSF) Standard 53 or NSF Standard 58 for cyst and oocyst reduction
- Using a filter that has the words “reverse osmosis” on the label.
- Drinking reverse osmosis, distilled, or absolute 1-micron filtered commercially bottled water.
- Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting contaminated surfaces.
- Remove all visible poop.
- Clean with soap and water.
- Let dry completely for at least 4 hours
- Immediately washing clothing and linens soiled with stool or vomit in hot water and soap. Machine Dry on the highest setting.
- Ensuring food is not be prepared by ill persons and for at least 2 weeks after they recover.
- Flushing all vomit and feces in the toilet, make sure the surrounding area is cleaned.