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December 1983

Human Cryptosporidiosis: Spectrum of Disease: Report of Six Cases and Review of the Literature

Author Affiliations

From the Section of Infectious Diseases (Drs Pitlik, Fainstein, and Bolivar), Departments of Developmental Therapeutics (Drs Pitlik, Fainstein, and Bolivar), Laboratory Medicine (Dr Hopfer and Ms Garza), Pathology (Dr Guarda), Immunology (Dr Rios), and Cancer Prevention (Dr Mansell), University of Texas System Cancer Center, M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Houston.

Arch Intern Med. 1983;143(12):2269-2275. doi:10.1001/archinte.1983.00350120059015

• Although once regarded exclusively as an animal parasite, Cryptosporidium has emerged during the last decade as a cause of diarrhea in humans. Of the 43 cases of human cryptosporidiosis reported, 27 patients in whom either humoral or cell-mediated immune defects were present had chronic protracted diarrhea that was almost invariably unresponsive to therapy and culminated in death. In contrast, 16 patients with intact immune systems had either self-limited disease or were asymptomatic. Animal exposure was almost exclusively recorded in the latter group. During the last six months at University of Texas M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Houston, gastrointestinal (GI) tract cryptosporidiosis developed in six homosexual men with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis was established histologically in five patients. In four, cryptosporidial oocysts were detected in the stool. In addition to extensive GI tract cryptosporidiosis, two patients had biliary tract involvement. Multiple chemotherapeutic agents failed to control the disease, and five patients eventually died. Cryptosporidiosis should be considered in the differential diagnosis of diarrhea, in animal handlers or in the severely compromised patient, especially one with AIDS, who has chronic protracted diarrhea.

(Arch Intern Med 1983;143:2269-2275)