This is a paper I wrote on Cryptosporidiosis, or Crypto
for short. I had to cram a lot of info into only two pages, which may come off a little scientifical for some but I needed to get my nearly perfect grade. Who knows, somebody may find it informative and I suppose it can fit into the disease portion of this website. It's also the only time I've had for writing lately. :)
Crypto - The Parasite
Cryptosporidiosis, simply referred to as Crypto, is a waterborne illness caused by the parasitic protist, Cryptosporidium. It is common throughout the world but was only discovered as a human disease in 1976. It spreads through the even more common method of fecal matter to mouth, though hopefully in a less crude manner than its simplified definition. In researching this subject, I realized pretty quickly that I would have enough information on diarrhea to write a book, since that's the main symptom, but let's try and keep that to a minimum here.
Neccessary Medical Info on the Bug
We'll start with the organism itself. Cryptosporidium is a single celled eukaryot that lives predominantly in the jejunum portion of the small intestine where it attaches to the microvilli. It goes through a spore phase, in which it envelops itself in a thick shell called a cyst, or oocyst as it is referred to when traveling. There are 2 kinds of shells made by the organism - thick and thin. The thin shelled oocysts remain inside the host's body where they will break easily, allowing the parasite to spread. The hard-shelled oocysts will leave the body with the stool. Their thick coats allow them to survive for long periods outside a host and they are highly resistant to chlorine, making usual water maintenance virtually ineffective against the bug.
The most common method of the oocysts finding a new host is through contaminated water, although they wouldn't consider themselves the contamination. Once ingested, they make their way through the system into the small intestine and excystate, in other words, break out of their capsule to move into their new home amongst the microvilli, where it then leeches off the host's nutrients rather than go out and earn its own.
The Symptoms? Look out Ex-Lax!
Diarrhea then takes place, which usually lasts 1-2 weeks. Sometimes other symptoms accompany the frequent bowel movements such as fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, headaches and vomiting. Besides anti-dehydration remedies, prescription antibiotics have almost no effect on Crypto. It's pretty much live with it until its gone, which actually can stay in your system for a couple months after the diarrhea finishes. Your body doesn't even build up a strong immunity to Crypto, which means you're capable of suffering through it again. People with immune deficiencies such as HIV and chemotherapy patients will suffer very severe and prolonged effects and death can even occur. Crypto must be taken seriously amongst people of this type. Children are more prone to infection but it can affect anyone at any age.
Forget the Baby Wipes, Mama
Whereas animals (especially cattle) living close to water supplies are a regular cause of Crypto, children are probably the next biggest cause of outbreaks, mainly those in diapers. There have been a wave of outbreaks in a new form of aquatic recreation know as "sprayparks." Thought of as a cheap alternative to local swimming pools, they proved to be perfect breeding grounds, or transmission grounds rather, for Crypto. Parents change the diapers nearby, sometimes even using the spray to wash the child's butt. The oocysts then travel with the water into the drain, through the pump and back out the lines where they are sprayed into the faces of everyone else nearby. Completely disgusting to think about, but that's what happens with recycled water.
This isn't to say that Crypto can't be contracted in other places. Think of what's in the pool water the next time you accidentally swallow a mouthful. Tap water commonly has Crypto in trace amounts. Even bottled water is capable of containing it, though less likely if it's a genuinely underground spring water source, or wherever they've decided to siphon it from. It can be found on food, bathroom sinks, door handles, etc. along with probably any other fecal illness that can potentially harm you.
Large Crypto Outbreaks
In 1993, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an outbreak of Crypto was responsible for sickening over 400,000 people, killing around 100 of them. Sewage was being drained into Lake Michigan, only to be sucked back up into a system with inadequate filtering measures. This is the largest recorded outbreak to date. The largest Canadian outbreak I found happened in 1996 when 10-15,000 became sick in Kelowna, BC.
So what do you do? What do you normally do for things like this? Wash your hands regularly. Show your love of personal hygiene. Boil your drinking water or at least get a filter with a hole size no large than 2 microns - whatever that means. Don't drink the pool water. Don't even go in the pool water! As with everything else, I'm not going to worry. I put what little trust I have into the water filters at PepsiCo and Miller. Unless it creeps up on me, I won't let it become a pain in my...
Wikipedia - Love Canal
(Never 100% accurate but good for basics and better links.)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Crypto - Cryptosporidiosis
- (Main info)
http://www.dpd.cdc.gov/dpdx/HTML/Frames/A-F/Cryptosporidiosis/body_Cryptosporidiosis_excyst_video.htm - (Video of Crypto excystation)
Giardia and Cryptosporidiosis in Drinking Water
New York State Department of Health
Wastewater Management in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
(Crypto's effect on "Sprayparks")
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