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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


    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