Cryptosporidium, or crypto, is a parasite meaning it lives inside a host and survives at their expense. It is protected by a cyst, an outer shell, so it can survive for long periods of time outside a body. The shell is chlorine-resistant, making them difficult to remove from water. They can also survive inside the intestines of humans and animals and can pass through stools to infect others. The parasite has become one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in both drinking water and recreational water in humans in the United States. It is found in every region of the United States and around the whole world.

How It Gets Into Your Water

Millions of Crypto can be released in a bowel movement of an infected person or animal. It can easily be found in water that has been contaminated with feces from someone infected with the parasite. Drinking water can be infected through sewage water overflows, if sewage systems aren’t working properly, agriculture runoff, or stormwater runoff. If water runs from a farm, into a drinking water source, it is likely carrying animal feces. Farms with cows are especially an issue considering cows are most often infected with Cryptosporidium. Private wells are at a greater risk especially if they are shallow, have been dug or bored, or have been submerged by floodwater for a long time.

Symptoms of a Cryptosporidium Infection

Infection from this parasite comes with several dangerous and unpleasant symptoms. Some of the symptoms of Cryptosporidiosis, Cryptosporidium infection, include:

  • Watery Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

First signs and symptoms typically appear within a week of being infected. The symptoms usually last around two weeks but may come and go sporadically for about a month. Some people with the infection may have no visible symptoms at all.

How to Know If There is Cryptosporidium In Your Water

Since the parasite is impossible to observe with the naked eye, the only way to know if it is in your water is to have your water tested. A water test will show you if your water is infected with the parasite and help you determine how to get clean, safe water. You can also do research or contact your state certification officer to see if there have been any Crypto outbreaks in your area.