Health Care Provider Information on Cryptosporidiosis

On this page:
Required Disease Reporting
Parasite Information
Clinical Features
Laboratory Diagnosis
Treatment

Required Disease Reporting

Parasite Information

Clinical Features

  • Infection with Cryptosporidium spp. results in a wide range of manifestations, from asymptomatic infections to severe, life-threatening illness.
  • Watery diarrhea is the most frequent symptom, and can be accompanied by abdominal cramps, fatigue, fever, vomiting, anorexia, and weight loss.
  • In immunocompetent persons, symptoms are usually short lived (1 to 2 weeks); they can be chronic and more severe in immunocompromised patients, especially those with CD4 counts <200/µl.
  • While the small intestine is the site most commonly affected, symptomatic Cryptosporidium infections have also been found in other organs including other digestive tract organs, the lungs, and possibly conjunctiva.

Laboratory Diagnosis

  • Low positive predictive values have been observed when using rapid assays for the diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis. Even though rapid assays can be used as a screening test in higher prevalence populations, rapid-assay positive specimens should be confirmed with other methods. It is important that health care providers are aware of the limitations and proper use of rapid assays in the diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis and that they limit testing to patients who have symptoms characteristic of the disease.
  • Submission of clinical materials from positive Cryptosporidium specimens to the Minnesota Department of Health Laboratory (MDH-PHL) is required in accordance with state communicable disease rules. Additional testing of these submitted materials is performed at the MDH-PHL with the results being used to aid public health surveillance.
  • Cryptosporidiosis Laboratory Diagnosis
    CDC DPDx - Laboratory Identification of Parasitic Diseases of Public Health Concern. Attention: Non-MDH link

Treatment

  • Most people who have healthy immune systems will recover without treatment.
  • Diarrhea can be managed by drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Immunocompromised persons and those in poor health are at highest risk for severe illness.
  • In HIV infected patients, anti-retroviral therapy, which improves immune status, will also reduce oocyst excretion and decrease diarrhea associated with cryptosporidiosis.
  • Nitazoxanide has been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of for all patients 1 year of age and older with diarrhea associated with cryptosporidiosis.

 

Updated Wednesday, 09-Jul-2014 15:24:57 CDT