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Burden of disease from cryptosporidiosis

Shirley, Debbie-Ann T.a; Moonah, Shannon N.b; Kotloff, Karen L.a

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: October 2012 - Volume 25 - Issue 5 - p 555–563
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e328357e569
GASTROINTESTINAL INFECTIONS: Edited by Nicholas J. Beeching and A. Clinton White

Purpose of review The global significance of cryptosporidiosis is widespread and far-reaching. In this review, we present recent data about strain diversity and the burden of disease, along with developments in therapeutic and preventive strategies.

Recent findings Cryptosporidium is an emerging pathogen that disproportionately affects children in developing countries and immunocompromised individuals. Without a diagnostic tool amenable for use in developing countries, the burden of infection and its relationship to growth faltering, malnutrition, and diarrheal mortality remain underappreciated. Disease incidence is also increasing in industrialized countries largely as a result of outbreaks in recreational water facilities. Advances in molecular methods, including subtyping analysis, have yielded new insights into the epidemiology of cryptosporidiosis. However, without practical point-of-care diagnostics, an effective treatment for immunocompromised patients, and a promising vaccine candidate, the ability to reduce the burden of disease in the near future is limited. This is compounded by inadequate coverage with antiretroviral therapy in developing countries, the only current means of managing HIV-infected patients with cryptosporidiosis.

Summary Cryptosporidiosis is one of the most important diarrheal pathogens affecting people worldwide. Effective methods to control and treat cryptosporidiosis among high-risk groups present an ongoing problem in need of attention.

aDivision of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Center for Vaccine Development, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

bDivision of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

Correspondence to Karen L. Kotloff, MD, Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Center for Vaccine Development University of Maryland School of Medicine, 685 W. Baltimore Street, HSF 480 Baltimore, MD 21201, USA. Tel: +1 410 706 5328; fax: +1 410 706 6205; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.