Published: May 6, 2015

    Decrypting Waterborne Diseases: Cryptosporidum

    April_Blog_Bacteria_2015-4Cryptosporidium is the most common waterborne disease in the United States. A parasitic microorganism, “Crypto,” as it’s often called, is transmitted through both animal and human fecal waste, and is often present in open water supplies, such as rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs.

    Crypto is a tough little organism. Its hard outer shell lets the parasite survive outside of the body for extended periods of time and endure harsh winter temperatures. That same shell makes Crypto resistant to chlorine disinfection, allowing it to infiltrate public drinking water.

    Contamination Sources
    Highly contagious, Crypto is usually transmitted through drinking contaminated drinking or recreational water. The parasite can also spread through eating uncooked, raw contaminated food, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth with your hand. Close contact with infected animals or humans also increase your chance of Crypto infection, especially if you come into contact with contaminated feces. Contaminated water, however, is by far the most common cause of Crypto infection.

    Crypto Symptoms
    Once Crypto infects someone, the parasites burrow into the wall of the small intestine. Symptoms are characterized by watery diarrhea, dehydration, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and fever, and can last up to two weeks. From the moment symptoms start the parasite sheds particles in the millions with every bowel movement, increasing the risk others will come into contact with the disease.

    The disease, while distressing, is rarely life-threatening. Infants, pregnant women, and the elderly are at high risk of severe dehydration, however. People with compromised immune systems can develop severe and potentially fatal complications, as can recipients of organ transplants.

    Treatment Options
    Most people recover from a Crypto infection without the need for medical treatment. Care must be taken to remain hydrated, especially if the infected person falls into one of the high risk groups mentioned above. For people with compromised immune systems, anti-parasitic drugs may be required.

    Frequent hand-washing is a good defense against Crypto, and the best way to prevent the parasite from spreading to others. Infectious parasitic particles are present in fecal matter for weeks after symptoms stop, so avoid using swimming pools or recreational water supplies until you’re no longer infectious. People infected with Crypto should also avoid infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system.

    If you use public swimming pools or recreational water, avoid swallowing water, which may be infected. The Pelican whole house water filter with UV destroys Crypto and 99.9% of other pathogens and bacteria found in public drinking water, helping to keep you and your family safe from America’s number one waterborne parasite.

    Disclaimer: The information on this website has not been reviewed by the FDA. Products offered for sale herein are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition. No medical claims are being made or implied. Contaminants mentioned are not necessarily in your water.