Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDC Home Search Health Topics A-Z
Healthy Pets Healthy People

Health Information
Browse by Animal
Browse by Disease
Prevention Tools
For People at Extra Risk
For Health Professionals
Go To...
Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch



Navigation Bar Link to NCID Contact Us page Link to HPHP Home Link to Health Benefits

Cryptosporidium Infection and Animals

What is Cryptosporidium infection?
Important Tip!

Protect yourself against getting Crytosporidium from animals. Simply wash your hands with running water and soap after any contact with animals and animal feces (stool).


Cryptosporidium infection (cryptosporidiosis) (krip-toe-spo-rid-ee-oh-sis) is a parasitic disease caused by Cryptosporidium parvum. It usually causes a mild to severe infection of the gastrointestinal system, including watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

Can animals give me Cryptosporidium infection?

Yes, sometimes. Most people get Cryptosporidium infection from contaminated food and water. However, sometimes animals (including farm animals, cats, and dogs) carry this parasite in their feces (stool) and pass it to people. Animals do not have to be ill to pass Cryptosporidium to humans. People with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing immunosuppressive treatments for cancer, organ transplant patients, and people with HIV/AIDS, are more likely than others to get Cryptospordium infection.
Cryptosporidium seen with a microscope in intestinal cells
Cryptosporidum passed in stool

How do I reduce my risk of acquiring cryptosporidiosis from my pet?

  • After contact with animals and animal feces (stool), wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap.
  • If you are immunocopromised and are getting a new pet, avoid strays, puppies, kittens and pets with diarrhea.
  • If your dog or cat has diarrhea, take it to your veterinarian.
  • If you develop symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and/or nausea, contact your physician. Be sure to inform him or her of your pet and if it is ill.
  • If you are immunocompromised, be extra cautious around farm animals and their environment.

How do I find more information on Cryptosporidium infection?

To learn more about this disease, refer to CDC's site on Cryptosporidium infection, including fact sheets, prevention tips, and other resources.



* Links to non-Federal organizations found at this site are provided solely as a service to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at these links.

PDF Document Icon Please note: Some of these publications are available for download only as *.pdf files. These files require Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to be viewed. Please review the information on downloading and using Acrobat Reader software.

HPHP Home | Glossary | Contact Us
CDC Home | Search | Health Topics A-Z

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases
Deparment of Health and Human Services
US Department of Health and Human Services