Cryptosporidium species are protozoan parasites that infect the epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract of vertebrates. In humans, cryptosporidiosis is usually a self-limiting infection in immunocompetent individuals, but severe diarrhoea and dissemination to extra-intestinal sites can occur in high-risk individuals, such as the very young, the elderly and immunosuppressed individuals, particularly those with HIV infection. The oocyst, the infectious stage of Cryptosporidium, is immediately infectious upon excretion with the host faeces, which favours direct transmission. Oocysts have the capacity to persist in the environment and to withstand standard water treatment and some species of Cryptosporidium, particularly C. parvum, have a wide host range and can be transmitted to humans by direct contact with animals or through ingestion of water and food contaminated with oocysts. Due to the presence of multiple transmission routes, the epidemiology of cryptosporidiosis is complex. The investigation of sporadic cases and outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis has contributed to a better understanding of risk factors and infection sources. Genotyping techniques have enabled a better understanding of the epidemiology of cryptosporidiosis in different geographical, seasonal and socioeconomic context.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)