Cryptosporidium infection is an intestinal illness caused by the parasite cryptosporidium found in food or water contaminated with stool from infected people or animals. The infection is often passed in contaminated water, such swallowing water from a pool, lake or stream.
The main symptom of the infection is watery diarrhea that starts about 2-‐10 days after exposure. Diarrhea may be accompanied by stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, or fever.
Call your doctor if you have:
- Blood in stool
- Severe vomiting
- Severe abdominal pain
- Signs of dehydration-dry, sticky mouth, decreased urine output, very dark urine
Diagnosis and Treatment
- A sample of your stool is checked for the presence of cryptosporidium.
- More than one stool sample may be needed. Most people get better without treatment within 4 weeks.
- Do not take anti-‐diarrhea medication unless specified by your doctor.
- It can make the illness last longer and decrease the body’s ability to get rid of the parasite.
- While you are recovering, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Wash your hands often to prevent spreading Cryptosporidium infection.
Preventing Cryptosporidium Infection
- Don’t swallow or drink water from pools, lakes, streams or rivers. When camping or traveling outside the country, avoid drinking or cooking with water unless you know it’s safe. If needed, boil water for at least 60 seconds before using it.
- If you drink well water, have it tested once a year for parasites, including cryptosporidium.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water often. Doe this before preparing meals and after going to the bathroom, changing diapers or handling pets. Teach your child to do the same.
- Use a food thermometer when cooking. Cook poultry to at least 165 degrees, pork and ground meats to at least 160 degrees, and beef or lamb to at least 145 degrees.