Cryptosporidium

Image of a lamb

Cryptosporidium is a parasitic infection of the bowel causing diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain. It commonly affects children although adults may also become infected.

From any of the following:

  • direct contact with farm animals and their bedding, particularly cattle and sheep. Seasonal outbreaks have been associated with farm visits to feed and handle lambs. Some domestic pets can pass cryptosporidium so care should be taken when handling them or their faeces.
  • drinking untreated milk or infected water supplies.
  • close contact with another infected person.
  • contact with infected swimming pool water.

The illness usually occurs within 2–5 days of infection but it can be up to 10 days before the symptoms appear.

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Wash hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before preparing meals or eating
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling and feeding animals including pets
  • Young children with the infection should have their hands washed for them or be supervised
  • Disinfect all areas in the toilet daily (including door handles)
  • Infected people should stay away from work until they have been free of symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting for at least 48 hours. Cases should also avoid using swimming pools or sharing baths for 2 weeks after the first normal stool
  • If the infected person is in a high risk group e.g. is a food handler, nursery worker, nurse or carer for the elderly etc. they cannot return to work until they have been completely recovered for 48 hours. Sometimes clear faecal specimens (negative results) are required. Also, it may be necessary to temporarily exclude infected children from playgroups, nurseries, childminders or schools. An Officer from the department will inform you if exclusion is necessary and when you are able to resume activities
  • Your GP will be able to give you advice on treatment.
  • You should tell your place of work or in the case of children, the head teacher of the school to find out if exclusion is necessary and when you can return.

If you report your infection, the council’s investigating officer will give you a more general leaflet on infection control.

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