What is cryptosporidiosis, diarrhea caused by a parasite that is increasing in Europe

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The European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) has reported an increase in cases of cryptosporidiosis in several countries in the region, such as Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

This increase, linked in many cases to trips to Spain, is due to the weather conditions that have occurred in Southern Europe in recent months, such as heat waves and heavy rains, the European organization has noted.

It is a disease caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium. Transmission occurs through the fecal-oral route, upon coming into contact with the eggs – called oocysts – deposited by the parasite. The disease can be contracted through the consumption of contaminated water or food, or by having direct contact with infected people or animals. Oocysts are resistant to disinfectants, such as chlorine, and can survive for long periods of time in soil or water even under extreme conditions, such as very low or very high temperatures.

The studies of serovigilance indicate that infection is common in developed countries, and almost universal in poorer countries.

In healthy individuals, the infection may be asymptomatic, although the most common presentation of the disease is a watery diarrhea which may be accompanied by abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, nausea, vomiting and weight loss. Generally, this condition resolves spontaneously in about two weeks. In any case, in vulnerable peoplelike immunosuppressed people, this diarrhea can worsen and put the patient’s life at risk.

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