Cryptosporidia are single-celled parasites belonging to the Cryptosporiidae family. Cryptosporidia are closely related to Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria, and to Toxoplasma gondii, the causative agent of toxoplasmosis.

Cryptosporidium is a causative agent of parasitic diarrheal diseases. Immunocompromised persons, such as HIV-infected persons and young children have an increased risk of disease. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea

  • Gastroenteritis

  • With a weak immune system: chronic diarrhea, cholangitis (inflammation of the bile ducts)

Cryptosporidia are spread worldwide. Cryptosporidium species infect many types of animals such as dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, and birds. The pathogens form infectious oocysts (spores) that are excreted by the host.

Relevance of pathogen in transmission in endoscopy

  • Gastroenterology: High

  • Pulmonology: Not relevant

  • Ear, nose, and throat: Not relevant

  • Urology: Not relevant

Relevance for endoscope surveillance

  • High concern organism

Transmission route

Infection occurs predominantly through the ingestion of contaminated water (e.g., drinking water, in swimming pools). However, fecal-oral transmission from human to human, animal to human, or infection through contaminated food is also possible.

Resistance to antibiotics

Low susceptibility to many antimicrobial agents has been described.

Sources and further readings

  1. Barbee SL, Weber DJ, Sobsey MD, Rutala WA. 1999. Inactivation of Cryptosporidium parvum oocyst infectivity by disinfection and sterilization processes. Gastrointest. Endosc. 49:605–611.

  2. Gries O, Ly T: Infektologie – Kompendium humanpathogener Infektionskrankheiten und Erreger, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2019.

  3. Kryptosporidiose, Robert Koch-Institut, Accessed on 06.30.2021.

  4. Parasites - Cryptosporidium, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on 06.30.2021.

  5. Unterschätzte Kryptosporidiose, Deutsche Apotheker-Zeitung, Accessed on 06.30.2021.