Infectious Diseases: Cryptosporidiosis

Cryptosporidiosis is one of the major primary causes of chronic diarrhea and malnutrition in poor countries. Collectively, diarrhea is responsible for over 3.5 million deaths worldwide each year—a third of all deaths in children under the age of 14 years from infectious diseases. Cryptosporidiosis is also one of the opportunistic infections which complicate HIV/AIDS and other immuno-compromised individuals, leading to the untimely death of such patients. There is no effective treatment against this infection, which can be contracted from other infected humans, from animals or from consuming contaminated food and water.

Cryptosporidiosis has emerged over the last decade as the single most important cause of waterborne infections in the US. The wake up call was a major waterborne outbreak in Milwaukee in 1994 involving 400,000 people and over 100 deaths. Projects include laboratory-based studies on the biology of the microorganism, discovery and evaluation of drugs against the disease, functional genomics, association with HIV/AIDS, the role in malnutrition and wasting in children with and without HIV/AIDS, the role in respiratory tract infections and innate host defense mechanisms.