Infection puts humans at risk

May 1, 2009
by WLJ
Infection puts humans at risk

A number of calves are suffering from cryptosporidiosis this spring, which can put their handlers at risk. “This extremely wet and sloppy spring calving season increases the risk of cryptosporidia infections, not only in our calves, but in the people caring for them,” says Charlie Stoltenow, North Dakota State University Extension Service veterinarian.

Cryptosporidiosis is caused by the protozoan parasite cryptosporidium parvum. The organism can affect the epithelial cells in human gastrointestinal, bile duct and respiratory tracts.

More than 45 species of animals, including cattle, sheep, poultry, fish, reptiles, dogs, cats and rodents, also can become infected.

The disease is passed from animals to people or person to person through feces. The parasite most commonly is found in food and water contaminated by feces from an infected animal or human. It can survive under very adverse conditions and is very resistant to disinfectants. People can re-infect themselves one or more times.

The disease can affect people of all ages. People may have the disease with no symptoms, so they become a source of infection to others. People who do have symptoms may experience diarrhea, anorexia and vomiting, but those should disappear in one to two weeks in healthy people. However, it can be a serious, prolonged disease in people with immature or compromised immune systems, such as children and older adults.

If you work with animals, wear protective clothing and wash your hands after handling the animals; Avoid ex posure to animal feces, especially from calves with diarrhea; Keep children away from sick animals, especially calves with diarrhea; Wash your hands with soap after using the bathroom; Prepare food properly and wash your hands before eating; Dispose of human and animal feces properly; Disinfect areas where the disease could be spread. — WLJ