Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite found in contaminated water. It has been increasingly recognized as the cause of outbreaks of diarrhea when water supplies become contaminated. In normal individuals, it is a self-limited disease. Among immunocompromised individuals with AIDS, cryptosporidium can cause severe diarrheal disease, gallbladder disease (cholecystitis), and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.