Cryptosporidiosis (often called crypto) is a diarrheal disease caused by a protozoan called Cryptosporidium parvum. The parasite can cause disease in both animals and humans. People usually catch cryptosporidiosis by coming in contact with persons or animals shedding the parasite, or drinking contaminated water. Most people with normal immune systems recover within about 30 days from the illness. However, in people with impaired immune systems (people with HIV/AIDS or people with organ transplants) the disease may be fatal.

Cryptosporidiosis is reportable to the Iowa Department of Public Health by Iowa Administrative Code 641 chapter 1.


Many people who become infected exhibit no symptoms at all. However, the most profound symptom of cryptosporidiosis is frequent watery diarrhea. Other symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low-grade fever

Symptoms often come and go. They tend to last about 30 days or less in people with normal immune systems. Unfortunately, in people with impaired immune systems like HIV/AIDS patients, the parasite cannot be cleared from the body. In these cases, the disease may be prolonged and even lead to death.

For more information on how to protect yourself from Cryptosporidiosis, please use the following resources.

Additional Resources


Public Health


Business and Childcare

Health Care Providers

Source:  Iowa Department of Public Health - Cryptosporidium