Cryptosporidiosis is a disease caused by Cryptosporidium sp., a  protozoan parasite Read the content of the note 1 . In animals, it is associated with digestive issues.

This is a zoonotic disease, which means that animals can transmit it to humans.

At-risk animals

Cryptosporidiosis affects primarily young animals. Calves, lambs, kids, piglets and foals are susceptible to this disease.

Young dogs, cats, birds and reptiles can also be infected.

Signs of the disease

Symptoms in most young animals usually consist of liquid, abundant yellowish diarrhea, weight loss and sometimes vomiting.

Turkey poults and young chickens can also have an infection of the respiratory tract.

In reptiles, regurgitation after meals has been observed. 

Protection and prevention

Several measures can help prevent this disease in animals and transmission to humans.

Wash your hands with water and soap frequently, especially if you work in a daycare, and after handling animals or working in a stable. It is not enough to use an alcohol-based solution or hand sanitizer. 

Avoid consuming untreated water, such as water from lakes, streams and rivers. Wash garden vegetables before eating them.

In public pools, shower before going in the water. Refuse access to people with diarrhea or incontinence and to children in diapers. Prohibit on-site food consumption.

To disinfect a contaminated area, cover all surfaces with a ready-to-use 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, which is available in pharmacies. Ensure that the treated surfaces remain moist by adding hydrogen peroxide as needed. Leave it for 30 minutes and rinse. Dry all disinfected items.

The parasite that causes cryptosporidiosis is resistant to most disinfectants, including bleach. Adding chlorine to drinking water or to pool water is not enough to kill it either.

In humans

Infected animals can transmit cryptosporidiosis even when they do not show any symptoms. Humans can contract the disease in many ways.

Cryptosporidiosis can be transmitted through direct contact with animals, their secretions or excretions, via the fecal-oral route. For example, you can contract the disease if you smoke after touching an infected animal.

A person can also contract the disease by drinking untreated water or eating a vegetable from a garden fertilized with contaminated manure.

The parasite can also be transmitted from person to person via the fecal-oral route. For example, you can contract the disease if you forget to wash your hands after changing the diaper of an infected child. 

Infected people can have a slight fever and abundant liquid diarrhea, sometimes mixed with blood. They can also experience abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting. The disease lasts anywhere from 3 to 14 days.

Last update: January 8, 2024


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