Cryptosporidiosis is one of those things that you hope you never have to deal with in your young stock (not to mention, in your home!). Deadly, fast-acting, and easily transferable to others, this is one disease that can be easy to get and hard to get rid of. It is transferable to calves, lambs, pigs, goats, mice, rabbits, chickens, cats, dogs, geese, most domesticated animals, and even to humans.
Crypto is a microscopic parasite known as protozoa. They commonly act together with other enteropathogens to produce intestinal injury and diarrhea. The protozoa first develop in the intestinal tract, and produce oocysts that pass through feces in the bedding pack and/or pasture. There, they take several days to develop (sporulate), after which they will infect the animals.
Cryptosporidiosis causes diarrhea, inefficient weight gains, and even death.
Young stock (5-21 days old), preweaned, recently weaned, or those in unsanitary, stressful, crowded conditions are at the highest risk. Typically the kids are infected in their first week of life (welcome to the world, kids! :( ). By the time they are 4 weeks old, they should be more or less resistant to the disease.
This disease is transferable to humans, particularly children and immunocompromised people.
Symptoms include watery, pale, yellow runny scouring, containing mucus. The persistent diarrhea can result in dehydration, anorexia, emaciation, apathy, rough hair coat, inappetance, electrolyte imbalance, acidosis, and high morbidity due to dehydration.
Scouring can last up to 2 weeks and can be continual or intermittent.
For a relatively low cost per test, you can send fecal samples. It is difficult to diagnose with normal light microscopy, but it can be detected by phase-contrast microscopy. Your vet may or may not know this already.
Effective treatments are not available. Usually it just has to run its course and will usually be over within 2 weeks. Supportive care, primarily hydration, is important. Frequent feedings, alternating milk with other fluids (electrolytes and water) may help. Improve hygiene & sanitation, isolate infected kids, and clean pens daily. You can also administer medicine to slow the scouring, such as Pepto Bismol.
The primary mode of transmission is by fecal-oral spread. Cleanliness is imperative here. So - clean, clean, clean! Oocysts are resistant to most disinfectants and can survive for several months in cool and moist conditions.
What type of disinfectant can I use?
Ammonia (5%), Ammonium hydroxide, hydrogen peroxide, chlorine dioxide, 10% formol saline, formalin, freeze-drying, and exposure to temperatures <32F (32C) or >149F (65C). These are all effective in destroying oocyst infectivity.