Cryptosporidium infection is contagious, so take precautions to avoid spreading the parasite to other people. There's no vaccine that can prevent a cryptosporidium infection.
All preventive methods aim to reduce or prevent the transmission of the cryptosporidium germs that are shed in human and animal feces. Precautions are especially important for people with compromised immune systems. Follow these suggestions:
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after using the toilet and changing diapers, and before and after eating. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not effectively kill the germs that cause cryptosporidium infection.
- Thoroughly wash with uncontaminated water all fruits and vegetables that you will eat raw, and avoid eating any food you suspect might be contaminated. If you're traveling in a developing country, avoid uncooked foods.
- Purify drinking water if you have a weakened immune system or are traveling in an area with a high risk of infection. Methods include boiling — at least one minute at a rolling boil — or filtering, although filtering may not be as effective as boiling. Be sure to use a filter that meets the National Safety Foundation Standard/American National Standards Institute (NSF/ANSI) standard 53 or 58 requirements for cyst and oocyst reduction. You'll need a separate water filter for bacteria and viruses.
- Limit swimming activities in lakes, streams and public swimming pools, especially if the water is likely to be contaminated or if you have a compromised immune system.
- Avoid fecal exposure during sexual activity.
- Handle newborn farm and domestic animals with care. Be sure to wash your hands after handling the animals.
Always refrain from swimming anytime you're experiencing diarrhea. If you know you've had a cryptosporidium infection, don't go swimming for at least two weeks after your symptoms subside because you may still be contagious.
Nov. 30, 2016
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