Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Are YOU thirsty for Cryptosporidium?

Have you ever thought that you could possibly be drinking a parasite when you think you are drinking just water? Cryptosporidium, also known as Crypto, is a parasite that is found mostly in humans, but is not limited to humans. The parasites can also be found in mammals, birds, reptiles and fish [4]. The most dominant species for this parasite is Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium homini. The main transmission source for Cryptosporidium to reach the body is through drinking contaminated water in mainly recreational water places, but can also occasionally be consumed by food. Upon contact with this parasite, it causes a diarrheal disease called Cryptosporidiosis [2] This parasite is found throughout the entire United States and is also known as “one of the most common causes of waterborne disease” [3].

Symbiont Description:
The host is not so harmfully affected by the parasite. The outcome of being parasitized by Cryptosporidium is diarrhea. There is no special medical treatment of effective therapy that has been found for this parasite causing Cryptosporidiosis. Basically, the parasite parasitizes the host without affecting the host much.

Cryptosporidium is a parasite that affects the host directly. This parasite usually does not carry vectors of any sort. It is known as zoonosis. This parasite lives basically in the intestines after it is consumed by humans or animals.

Life Cycle: 

The life cycle of this parasite in a single host is quite complex with six developmental stages because reproduction occurs both sexually and asexually. The oocysts containing the parasite are consumed by the host, mainly through contaminated water. When the parasite is encountered by the host, excystation happens, where the epithelial cells in the body are parasitized. The parasite lives in the intestines and causes Cryptosporidiosis. In most cases, it is removed from the body through diarrhea by drinking lots of water [2].

Cryptosporidium is one of the most common parasites found throughout the United States. It is most commonly found in drinking water or contaminated recreational areas.  “There have been 12 documented waterborne outbreaks in North America since 1985” [5].  Approximately more than half of the population that was affected was immunocompromised. It is basically, focused on people that are exposed to cancer, HIV/AIDS, or any other immune deficiency diseases [5].

Example of Social Status:
Hygiene is a major prevention from Cryptosporidiosis. According to Combes, the higher the social status of the human population, the lower the parasite burden because of better hygiene, healthcare, and household surroundings. There is a higher chance for the population that is immunocompromised to be affected. However, places that are less hygiene/less clean/ and highly populated are more prone to this encounter[3].

[2]    "Parasites - Cryptosporidium (also known as "Crypto")." Center for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 2011. Web. 31 Jan 2012. <>
[3]    Combes, Claude. Parasitism: The Ecology and Evolution of Intimate Interactions; Translated
         by  Isaure De Buron and Vincent A. Connors; with a New Foreword by Daniel Simberloff. 
         Chicago:    University of Chicago, 2001.
[4]     Cryptosporidium. N.p., 2009. Web. 31 Jan 2012. <>.