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Name That Bug!

Pathogens, or “bugs” such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi can contaminate our food. Pathogens can make us sick when we eat them or can produce toxins that will make us sick. See if you can identify this bug:

  • I am a parasite

  • I have an extremely strong “shell” that allows me to survive outside of the body for days.

  • That same shell makes it very difficult to kill me with soaps or sanitizers.

  • I live in the intestines of humans and animals and can spread when I am shed from an infected person or animal.

  • My most notable effects are cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and fever.

  • Those symptoms usually begin 2 to 10 days after becoming infected.

  • I am usually associated with water-borne disease outbreaks but I can make people sick when I get on food as well.

  • I am extremely contagious.

This parasite attaches to the lining of the intestine and reproduces. Image courtesy of Animal Planet.

Who am I?


I am Cryptosporidium, or Crypto!

Cryptosporidium has a spore phase. In this state, it can survive for lengthy periods outside of a host.

Crypto is a virus with thick-walled cells, which makes it very resilient in many different environments and hard to destroy. Crypto is also resistant to many common disinfectants, most notably chlorine. Wastewater facilities use a variety of different filtration methods to keep the crypto spore out of our drinking water.

It’s important to remember that crypto can make people sick through food. Food, especially produce, can become dangerous if it has been exposed to animal or human feces in the fields or factories. To prevent food-borne crypto always do the following…

Use safe, uncontaminated water to wash all food that is to be eaten raw.

  • After washing vegetables and fruit in safe, uncontaminated water, peel them if you plan to eat them raw.

  • Avoid eating uncooked foods when traveling in countries with poor water treatment and food sanitation.

  • Always exclude yourself or employees from all food and beverage handling activities, if you or they are experiencing such symptoms as vomiting, diarrhea, fever or jaundiced skin.

  • Never eat unwashed produce – even if it is “organic”.

  • Always double-wash your hands after using the restroom!


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