Cryptosporidiosis, also known as crypto, is a parasitic disease caused by Cryptosporidium, a protozoan parasite in the phylum Apicomplexa. It affects the intestines and is typically an acute short-term infection. It is spread through the fecal-oral route, often through contaminated water; the main symptom is self-limiting diarrhea in people with intact immune systems. In immunocompromised individuals, such as AIDS patients, the symptoms are particularly severe and often fatal.
There is no reliable treatment for cryptosporidium enteritis; certain agents such as paromomycin, atovaquone, nitazoxanide, and azithromycin are sometimes used, but they usually have only temporary effects. Treatment is primarily supportive. Fluids need to be replaced orally. A lactose-free diet should be taken as tolerated. In rare situations, intravenous fluids may be required. Antibiotics are not usually helpful, and are reserved primarily for persons with severe disease and a weak immune system. Sometimes relapses happen.
Major research on disease
A recombinant Cryptosporidium parvum oocyst surface protein (rCP15/60) vaccine has produced an antibody response in a large group of cows and also antibody response in calves fed rCP15/60-immune colostrum produced by these vaccinated cows . This is very promising. Human Cryptosporidium parvum infections are particularly prevalent and often fatal in neonates in developing countries and to immunocompromised people, such as AIDs patients. There is no commercially available effective vaccine against Cryptosporidium parvum, although passive immunization utilizing different zoite surface (glyco)proteins has showed promise. Developmental stages within the life cycle of the parasite that might act as possible targets for vaccine development. The organism is detected in 65-97% of the surface-water supply in the United States and is resistant to most disinfectants used for treatment of drinking water. Antibodies in the serum of humans and animals infected with Cryptosporidium parvum react with several antigens, one of which is a 15 kDa protein (CP15) located on the surface of the organism. This protein is a good candidate for use as a molecular vaccine because previous studies have shown that a monoclonal antibody to CP15 confers passive immunityto mice. Currently, there is no drug therapy or vaccine that is effective against Cryptosporidium parvum.
Cryptosporidium is an important cause of infectious diarrhoea worldwide, but little is known about the course of illness when infected with different species. Over a period of 5 years, Cryptosporidium was identified in the stools of 58 of 157 children prospectively followed from birth in an urban slum (favela) in northeast Brazil. Forty isolates were available for quantification and 42 for speciation (24 Cryptosporidium hominis and 18 C. parvum). Children with C. hominis shed significantly more oocysts/ml of stool (3.5 x 10(6) vs. 1.7 x 10(6)perml; P=0.001), and oocyst counts were higher among symptomatic children (P=0.002). Heavier C. parvum shedding was significantly associated with symptoms (P=0.004), and symptomatic C. parvum-infected children were significantly more likely than asymptomatic children to be lactoferrin-positive (P=0.004). Height-for-age (HAZ) Z-scores showed significant declines within 3 months of infection for children infected with either C. hominis (P=0.028) or C. parvum (P=0.001). However, in the 3-6 month period following infection, only C. hominis-infected children continued to demonstrate declining HAZ score and asymptomatic children showed even greater decline (P=0.01).