What are risk factors in the development of cryptosporidiosis?

Updated: Nov 11, 2019
  • Author: Melinda B Tanabe, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Among healthy individuals, cryptosporidiosis is primarily a childhood disease. Daycare center–related outbreaks have a high infection rate (30%-60%). Risk groups include childcare workers; parents of infected children; international travelers, including backpackers and hikers who drink unfiltered untreated water; swimmers who swallow contaminated recreational water; people who handle infected animals; and people exposed to human feces through sexual contact. [1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 17, 18]

Individuals with compromised cellular immunity are at an increased risk of symptomatic cryptosporidiosis, particularly severe disease. Immunodeficiency may be congenital (especially in individuals with hyper–immunoglobulin M [IgM] syndrome) or may result from HIV infection, malnutrition, or organ transplantation. Pregnancy is another predisposing factor for cryptosporidiosis. In resource-limited countries, the prevalence of Cryptosporidium infection is significantly higher than in industrialized countries because of a lack of clean water and sanitary facilities, crowding, and animal reservoirs in close proximity to residences. In a systematic review, overcrowding, diarrhea in household, and animal contact were the major risk factors for infection in low- and middle-income countries. [5, 19] No increased risk with water source was observed.

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