Cryptosporidium is a parasite that can give you diarrhoea and sometimes make you feel very sick.
Cryptosporidium (also called ‘crypto’) is a parasite found in the gut of infected people and animals. It is passed on in the faeces of infected humans and animals. People become infected when they swallow the parasites, usually in contaminated water.
People with cryptosporidium may get diarrhoea, stomach cramps and vomiting. Some people can get very sick from cryptosporidium.
If you are concerned about cryptosporidium, call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see your doctor or practice nurse.
You get infected when you swallow the parasites, for example, by drinking contaminated (unsafe) water or touching your mouth with contaminated hands.
People or animals who have cryptosporidium pass on the parasites in their faeces.
The parasites can contaminate soil, food or water, or surfaces such as toys, bathroom taps or doors, and nappy change tables.
The parasites can live for long periods, especially in lakes, rivers, streams and roof water. There is no way of telling by taste, sight or smell if soil, food, water or a surface has cryptosporidium.
Cryptosporidium symptoms can include diarrhoea, stomach pains, feeling sick and vomiting. Symptoms appear about a week after you have been infected. You may be ill for two weeks or more. For some people, such as the very young or very old, cryptosporidium may last a long time and be life threatening.
If you think you have cryptosporidium, see your doctor. They will probably ask you to provide a stool sample for testing. There is no treatment for cryptosporidium, but there are medicines that can help you feel better, while your body recovers.
Stay away from school, early childhood centres or work until two days after the symptoms have gone.
Cryptosporidium is a notifiable disease. This means that health professionals or laboratories will inform us when someone has it. This allows us to monitor the number of people who have the disease and give health professionals advice on how to reduce its spread.
Last updated 22.11.2022