~~~ Cryptosporidium ~~~

This little sucker is causing problems around and about the nation. You may have read or heard about Wisconsin's recent experience with this organism. This little critter is a parasite and is not a nice bug - although, most everyone handles it just fine. However, this little parasite may make you really ill - especially if you are very young, or are already ill with something like AIDS, or any other condition or treatment regimen which compromises (lowers) the effectiveness of your immune system. So, it's good to be aware of it, in order to be appropriately cautious.

Cryptosporidium lives happily in water, but can also live in wild animals, and certain domestic animals, particularly young cattle (calves). Thus, infected animals are the main source of maintaining the distribution of the bug in the environment. Usually, this bug is not a problem (has been around a long, long, time - nothing new); but, sometimes this little critter can substantially increase in number, and some of them convert to a cyst form. The cyst form is where the problem arises. This form of the bug is particularly resistant to the normal chemical treatments of our drinking water which are used to keep our water safe; and, if a cyst form is ingested by an animal, or us, it will convert to a normal kind of cellular form of the bug (called a vegetative cell), divide, and may cause an infection, then disease. Health departments around the nation are taking a very close look for this bug, even more closely than is always done, anyway. You can be assured that the people who need to know about this potential problem, do know about it. We have a terrific arrangement in this nation which allows almost instant transfer of any information which may be important to the health of our citizens. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, keeps a 24-hr per day look-out for anything that might involve any kind of disease, and generates warnings and procedures to be used to combat the problem, to every single county/city health department in the country. Not bad, huh?

See Jim Sullivan's information and take a look at Cryptosporidium parvum at: Cells Alive!

Book: Don't Touch That Doorknob!

Copyright John C. Brown, 1995
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