Cryptosporidium Parasites (Crypto)

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OCCHD advises residents about Cryptosporidium parasites (Crypto) which live in the intestine of infected humans or animals.

According to the CDC, Crypto can be found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with feces from infected humans or animals.

Crypto can be spread:

  • By putting something in your mouth or accidentally swallowing something that has come in contact with the stool of a person or infected animal feces.
  • Swallowing contaminated pool/spa water that contains feces.
  • Eating undercooked food contaminated with Crypto. All fruits and vegetables you plan to eat raw should be thoroughly washed with uncontaminated water.
  • Touching your mouth with contaminated hands. Especially after changing diapers or caring for an infected person or animal.

  • Symptoms include:

    • Watery diarrhea
    • Stomach pain
    • Dehydration
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Fever
    • Weight loss
    • Such symptoms can last 1 to 2 weeks

    To help protect yourself and other swimmers from germs, here are a few easy and effective steps all swimmers can take each time we swim:

  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea, and up to 2 weeks after your last episode- you can still be shedding these organisms from your gut well after your symptoms are gone.
  • Shower before you get in the water- according to the CDC, the average adult carries around about 0.14 grams of fecal matter on their bottoms, which can potentially harbor many individual infectious organisms.
  • Don’t pee or poop in the water.
  • Don’t swallow the water.

    Every hour—everyone out!


  • Take kids on frequent bathroom breaks.
  • Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area–not poolside–to keep germs away from the pool.
  • Reapply sunscreen.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

  • Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.

  • Pools: Proper free chlorine level (1–5 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) maximize germ-killing power.
  • Hot tubs/spas: Proper disinfectant level (chlorine [1–5 parts per million or ppm] or bromine [2–4 ppm] and pH [7.2–7.8]) maximize germ-killing power.
  • Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips.
  • Treatment

    Most people who have healthy immune systems will recover without treatment. Diarrhea can be managed by drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. People who are in poor health or who have weakened immune systems are at higher risk for more severe and prolonged illness. Young children and pregnant women may be more susceptible to dehydration resulting from diarrhea and should drink plenty of fluids while ill. Rapid loss of fluids from diarrhea may be especially life threatening to babies. Therefore, parents should talk to their healthcare providers about fluid replacement therapy options for infants.

    Anti-diarrheal medicine may help slow down diarrhea, but a healthcare provider should be consulted before such medicine is taken. Nitazoxanide has been FDA-approved for treatment of diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium in people with healthy immune systems and is available by prescription. However, the effectiveness of nitazoxanide in immunosuppressed individuals is unclear.

    HIV-positive individuals who suspect they have cryptosporidiosis should contact their healthcare provider. For those persons with AIDS, anti-retroviral therapy that improves the immune status will also decrease or eliminate symptoms of cryptosporidiosis. However, even if symptoms disappear, cryptosporidiosis is often not curable and the symptoms may return if the immune status worsens.

    For more information go to: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/