CryptoNet : Highlighting the Real-Time Fight against Cryptosporidium
By Rhodel Bradshaw , specialist , Food Safety
is a parasite found in the environment across the United States and is transmitted mainly through ingestion of contaminated water . It was the cause of the country ’ s largest waterborne disease epidemic on record in 1993 , when approximately 400,000 people in Milwaukee , WI fell ill and at least 69 people — most of whom were also suffering from AIDS
— died from the parasite . Cryptosporidium remains the leading cause of waterborne illnesses and is the third leading cause of illnesses associated with zoonotic outbreaks and animal contact . Additionally , this parasite has been the key culprit in some foodborne outbreaks associated with unpasteurized milk products , ready-to-eat foods and ciders . Annually , there are up to 823,000 reported cases with an economic burden of $ 18 million in the US .
Most species are indistinguishable by conventional clinical test methods and must be typed using molecular methods . In 2010 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
( CDC ) developed CryptoNet
, the first national molecular tracking system for parasitic infections . APHL has now formally joined in partnership with CDC and other CryptoNet certified agencies to bolster surveillance across the nation .
The aim of the CryptoNet network is to facilitate the systematic collection and molecular characterization of Cryptosporidium isolates , and to facilitate real-time sharing of clinical , animal and environmental isolate-based data with partners across the US . This will allow for improved detection and analysis of cryptosporidiosis outbreak data , a better understanding of important geographic
Collier SA , Deng L , Adam EA , Benedict KM , Beshearse EM , Blackstock AJ , et al . Estimate of Burden and Direct Healthcare Cost of Infectious Waterborne Disease in the United States . Emerging Infectious Diseases . 2021 ; 27 ( 1 ): 140-149 . Available from https :// dx . doi . org / 10.3201 / eid2701.190676
and temporal changes in the distribution of the pathogen , build capacity to identify traditional and novel sources of contamination , and aid the identification of new Cryptosporidium species , genotypes and subtypes .
By incorporating existing approaches developed for systems like PulseNet and CaliciNet , laboratories will be able to integrate Cryptosporidium surveillance and genotyping and impending whole genome multi-locus sequence typing more readily . Equipment for CryptoNet isolate processing includes PCR and sequencing equipment ( microcentrifuge , electrophoresis chambers , water bath , sequencing machine ) and BioNumerics software . n
DIGITAL EXTRA : APHL member laboratories that are interested in more information about CryptoNet can contact Rhodel Bradshaw ( rhodel . bradshaw @ aphl . org
Once ingested , Cryptosporidium parasitizes the endothelial cells of the gastrointestinal track to cause cryptosporidiosis . Common symptoms of the disease are diarrhea , fever , and or fatigue , which can be life threatening . In rare cases , Cryptosporidium has been shown to cause extraintestinal cryptosporidiosis in the pulmonary and biliary tract of the host . Moreover , there are over 40 species and a myriad of subtypes within the genus with nearly 20 reported species causing human and animal illnesses .
14 LAB MATTERS Spring 2021