Print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury


Cryptosporidium is a parasite (living thing) that can cause an infection called gastroenteritis.

You can get cryptosporidium (or cryptosporidiosis) from infected animals. You can also get it by swimming in or drinking contaminated water.

You usually get symptoms two to 10 days after being infected. Symptoms usually last between one and two weeks.

The most common symptoms are watery diarrhoea, stomach pain or cramp, feeling sick and vomiting and a high temperature (fever).

The symptoms are generally mild. But they can be more serious in young children, older people and people with poor immune systems.

Diagnosing cryptosporidium

Cryptosporidiosis is diagnosed from a poo (faeces) sample.

If the tests find the cryptosporidiosis infection, your GP will report this to the local public health team. They may contact you for more information. This is to help stop the infection spreading further.

Treating cryptosporidium

There is no specific treatment for cryptosporidium.

It's important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. See the self-care section on the gastroenteritis page for more details.

Getting help with cryptosporidium

You should see your GP if you have severe diarrhoea or a fever or if your symptoms have not gone away after seven days. This is especially important for babies, children and older people or if you have a weakened immune system.

You should take your child to your GP if they aren't drinking, if they're passing less urine than usual, have a dry mouth or sunken eyes or if they seem drowsy.

Avoiding spreading cryptosporidium

Your faeces may remain infectious for several weeks after your symptoms have gone. To reduce the risk of spreading the infection, it's important to have good hand hygiene. This includes washing your hands with soap and water.

Try to avoid preparing food if you have cryptosporidium. If you do prepare food, make sure you wash and dry your hands well first. Follow this food safety advice.

Stay away from work, community gatherings and school or preschool until you or your child have been free of symptoms for 24 to 48 hours. This includes the last time you had diarrhoea.

You should wait for at least two weeks after the last episode of diarrhoea before you go swimming in a pool.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2022.


See also:

Diarrhoea & vomiting in adults (gastroenteritis)

Diarrhoea & vomiting in children (gastroenteritis)

Eating and drinking when you're unwell

Page reference: 49706

Review key: HIGTE-81185