Cryptosporidium is a protozoan, which are unicellular eukaryotic organisms.
This organism is capable of completing its life cycle in a single host, resulting in cysts that are excreted in feces. The disease is contracted via ingestion of oocysts in food and water that excyst in the small intestine and cause damage to intestinal epithelial tissue.
Cryptosporidium can be identified via acid-fast staining.
Cryptosporidium is associated with large outbreaks of diarrhea when water supplies are contaminated with the organism.
In most people, cryptosporidium only causes an acute short-term infection, but can cause severe diarrhea in the immunocompromised.
In most people, cryptosporidium only causes an acute short-term infection, but can cause severe diarrhea in the immunocompromised. It is the most common organism isolated in HIV positive patients presenting with diarrhea.
Nitazoxanide is used to treat Cryptosporidium parvum along with other protozoa and helminths in immunocompetent adults, and especially children. It works by inhibition of anaerobic energy metabolism in pathogenic microorganisms. Patients who are immunocompetent may not require nitazoxanide initially, and supportive care is indicated. Patients who are immunocompromised or patients with HIV should first be treated with antiretroviral therapies, with a goal to increase their CD4+ counts to above 200.
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