A person can develop Crypto after coming in contact with contaminated feces. This exposure often happens by swallowing recreational swimming water. Anywhere people congregate in water — swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, lakes, and even the ocean — can contain Cryptosporidium. Other serious infections can also be contracted in these environments.
According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, Cryptosporidium germs are a leading cause of waterborne disease in this country. Young children who often splash and play in water are susceptible to the infection, which peaks in prime swimming season in the summer and fall.
The CDC reports that millions of Cryptosporidium parasites can be shed in the bowel movement of just one infected person, making Crypto highly contagious. And because the parasite is surrounded by an outer shell, it’s resistant to chlorine and other disinfectants. The parasite can live for days, even in pools properly treated with chemicals.
Crypto germs can also be spread through hand-to-mouth contact. They can be found on any surface that’s been contaminated with infected feces. Because of this, the infection can also be transmitted by:
- playing with contaminated toys
- touching bathroom surfaces without properly washing your hands
- handling animals
- having sex
- drinking untreated water
- touching dirty diapers
- handling unwashed produce grown in contaminated soil