Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites, Cryptosporidium, that can live in the intestine of humans and animals and is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as "Crypto." The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very resistant to chlorine-based disinfectants.
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.
In most rural areas and small communities in Switzerland the drinking water is supplied to the consumers after a minimum or even no treatment at all. However, it is just in these areas where drinking water from sources of agricultural activities can be contaminated by liquid manure and faeces of pasturing animals. The Swiss drinking water regulations are limited to the monitoring of E. coli, Enterococcus spp. and total plate counts only. Hence, resistant pathogens, as for example Cryptosporidium spp., remain unnoticed. During a drinking water survey, which lasted from June 2003 to December 2004, water samples were collected from 3 selected rural sites in Switzerland. The drinking water was investigated for Cryptosporidium spp., E. coli, Enterococcus spp., Clostridium perfringens and other parameters. In all samples oocysts of Cryptosporidium spp. were detected at elevated concentrations of up to 0.18 oocysts/l. Between 28% and 75% of the oocysts were found to be vital by the excystation method.