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Cryptosporidium enteritis

  • Definition

    Cryptosporidium enteritis is an infection of the small intestine with the parasite Cryptosporidium that causes diarrhea.


    Alternative Names

    Cryptosporidiosis


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Cryptosporidium has recently been recognized as a worldwide cause of diarrhea in all age groups. Its major impact has been among those with weakened immune systems, including:

    • People who take medications to suppress their immune system
    • People with HIV or AIDS
    • Transplant recipients

    In these groups, this diarrheal infection is not just bothersome, but it also also can lead to severe and life-threatening loss of muscle and body mass (wasting) and malnutrition.

    The major risk factor is swallowing water contaminated with fecal matter. Those at higher risk include:

    • Animal handlers
    • Men who have sex with men
    • People in close contact with infected individuals
    • Young children

    Outbreaks have been linked to:

    • Drinking from contaminated public water supplies
    • Drinking unpasteurized cider
    • Swimming in contaminated pools and lakes