Symptoms and Signs of Cryptosporidiosis

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Medically Reviewed on 3/21/2019

Doctor's Notes on Cryptosporidiosis

Cryptosporidiosis is a disease caused by infection of humans and other animals by one or more species of Cryptosporidium protozoans. The first signs and symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis often are watery diarrhea and fever. Other signs and symptoms may include a lack of appetite, stomach cramps, dehydration, weight loss, nausea, and/or vomiting. Symptoms last about five to 10 days but may persist longer in immunosuppressed individuals. Immunosuppressed people may develop persistent diarrhea, malnutrition, dehydration, respiratory problems, pancreatitis, and gallbladder problems (acalculous cholecystitis); others may have persistent pain in the head, joints, eyes and may have problems with cognition.

The causes of cryptosporidiosis are Cryptosporidium protozoan parasites that reproduce in the epithelial cells lining the distal small intestine tract and, if the host is immunocompromised, the parasites may reproduce almost anywhere in the G.I. tract and in the lungs. Cryptosporidium hominis and Cryptosporidium parvum are the two species that mainly infect humans although other Cryptosporidium species (about 15 different species) may also cause the disease in humans and animals.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.