Institute of Food Science & Technology
The Voice of the Food Profession
Cryptosporidium is a genus of parasitic protozoa that can cause cryptosporidiosis, a gastro-intestinal illness in humans, cattle and some other animals. In people, it causes abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, headaches and fever, but the infection is usually self-limiting and resolves within a few weeks. In immunocompromised patients, the infection can be more serious; it can become prolonged and rarely, fatal as a result of dehydration caused by chronic diarrhoea. These protozoa complete their life cycles in one host and their oocysts (spores) are highly infectious.
It is primarily a waterborne disease spread through the faecal-oral route; the oocysts can also be transmitted by handling infected animals or person-to-person contact. The parasite can be found in soil, water or food and may be transmitted through surfaces that have been contaminated with the faeces of infected people or animals; Cryptosporidium requires a host in which to multiply and cannot grow in foods or water.
The majority of water treatment plants cannot completely guarantee removal of all Cryptosporidium oocysts from the water as the oocysts are very small and resistant to chlorine, the disinfectant commonly used in these plants, so rendering much of the treatment process irrelevant. Since The Water Supply (Water Quality) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 as amended by The Water Supply (Water Quality) (Amendment) Regulations (SI 2000 No./ 31854 came into force there has been a reduction in reported cases, as demonstrated by health surveillance data. The extent to which recreational waterways such as lakes, and private wells continue to pose an occasional risk to health remains unclear, but other sources of contamination remain a cause for concern.
Cryptosporidium is inactivated by UV, heat, freezing and desiccation, so heat-treated, frozen and dried foods should be safe unless contaminated after processing.
07 Mar 2014
International Women's Day - Recognising women in food science
06 Mar 2014
Draft guideline on sugars intake - WHO opens public consultation
MTC expands its remit and becomes Food and Drink Training and Education Council Ltd
Read more Hot Spot stories
11 March 2014
Food and Packaging Innovation – Designing for a Sustainable Future
See all upcoming events
Copyright © 2013 Institute of Food Science & Technology