Skip all navigation Skip to page navigation

DHHS Home | A-Z Site Map | Divisions | About Us | Contacts

NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC Division of Public Health
N.C. Public Health Home

Diseases & Topics


Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites of the genus Cryptosporidium. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as "Crypto." Many species of these parasites infect humans and a wide range of animals. Crypto may be found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals.

While this parasite can be transmitted in several different ways, water is a common method of transmission. Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of water-borne disease (drinking water and recreational water) among humans in the United States. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very resistant to chlorine disinfection. The disease may also be spread person-to-person and through consuming contaminated food.

The most common symptom of cryptosporidioisis is watery diarrhea. Other symptoms include stomach cramps or pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. Symptoms generally begin between two and ten days, or seven days on average, after becoming infected. In persons with healthy immune systems, symptoms usually last about one to two weeks. The symptoms may go in cycles in which a person may seem to get better for a few days, then feel worse again before the illness ends. Some people with cryptosporidioisis will have no symptoms at all.

For Additional Information