Cryptosporidiosis (crypto) is a diarrheal disease caused by Cryptosporidium parvum, a tiny parasite.
Both people and animals may get crypto. The stool (feces) of infected people or animals has Cryptosporidium parasites in it.
You can get crypto by:
- touching something with stool on it and putting your hand in your mouth
- eating food or drinking water that has stool in it
You are more likely to get crypto if you:
- have contact with stool from an infected person through sexual contact or while caring for a person with crypto
- are a child in a day-care
- work at a day-care center
- have contact with infected animals
The most common symptoms are diarrhea, nausea, fever, stomach cramps, and vomiting. In healthy people, the illness usually lasts 1 to 2 weeks. In people with poor immune systems (those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or recent organ transplants), the infection may be severe and last longer.
- Drink plenty of fluids and get extra rest. See your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may want to have your stool tested for Cryptosporidium parasites. There is no drug to treat this disease but your doctor can provide medication to help you feel better.
Always wash your hands (and tell others to do the same)
- before fixing food
- before eating
- after using the toilet
- after changing diapers
- after changing clothes or bedding soiled with stool
- after caring for people with diarrhea
- after touching or petting animals
Avoid sexual practices that put you in direct contact with stool
Do not drink from rivers, lakes, or swimming pools
For extra protection, boil water for one minute to kill the parasite if you:
- are infected with HIV
- have recently had an organ transplant
- are being treated for cancer
- are traveling in a country where you are not sure if the water is safe
- Allow the water to cool before you drink it
- Use this treated water to brush your teeth, to make ice, and to wash fruits and vegetables
School Exclusion Policy
Children with confirmed cryptosporidiosis should be kept out of school or childcare until they are diarrhea and fever-free. Rules for exclusion of sick children from school and childcare are outlined in the Texas Administrative Code, specifically Rule 97.7 for schools and Rule 746.3603 for childcare.
Recent Texas Trends
In a typical year, 200-400 cases of Crypto are reported in Texas. Outbreaks do occur with much higher numbers of cases reported. In 2008, there were multiple Crypto outbreaks that resulted in 3,342 cases reported over the year.