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A Cryptosporidium infection termed Cryptosporidiosis, is a bowel infection which is caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium.

Cryptosporidiosis causes an individual to experience stomach cramps and watery diarrhea, along with the less common symptoms of fever and vomiting. These symptoms typically last from one to two weeks. An immunocompromised individual however, may endure these symptoms for a much longer period. Unfortunately Cryptosporidium is responsible for around 57 000 deaths each year, with around 80% of its victims being children.

With no effective drug or vaccine available to treat Cryptosporidiosis, preventing the transmission of the parasite is vital. The Cryptosporidium parasite may be transmitted by ingesting contaminated food or water, or even swimming in a contaminated pool. As the parasite must be taken in by mouth, washing hands is of extreme importance in the prevention of indirect contamination. Indirect contamination occurs when an individual becomes a parasitic host after touching surfaces, objects, or other people’s hands which are infected with the contaminated faeces of humans or animals.

Scientists at the University of East Anglia have discovered a subspecies of the Cryptosporidium parasite. The subspecies is rapidly evolving, enabling itself to spread more easily within individuals.

Further information regarding the findings made at the University of East Anglia may be found in the journal Nature Microbiology “Evolutionary genomics of anthroponosis in Cryptosporidium” March 4 2019.

PTA will be conducting Round 43 of the Cryptosporidium and Giardia proficiency testing program in May 2019. Laboratories which are interested in participating in this program are encouraged to contact the PTA Cryptosporidium and Giardia program coordinator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cryptosporidium is protected by an outer shell which allows it to survive for a longer period of time outside its host.