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Volume 10, Number 9—September 2004
Books and Media

Cryptosporidium: From Molecules to Disease

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R.C. Andrew Thomson; Anthony Armson; Una M. Ryan, editors
Elsevier, Amsterdam
ISBN: 444-51351-5
Pages: 422, Price US $139.00

The protozoan parasite, Cryptosporidium, has recently emerged as a human pathogen. It was unidentified or unrecognized as a cause of illness in humans until 1976. Since then, it has caused gastrointestinal illness around the world. Its small size, low infectious dose, resistance to chlorination, and durability in the environment has made it a uniquely challenging organism for environmental scientists and public health professionals.

This book includes full text of abstracts and invited papers from an international conference held in Australia in October 2001. More than 100 scientists from more than 15 countries contributed to the conference.

The “from molecules” aspect of the book, which addresses molecular and biochemical features of the life cycle, infection, and detection of Cryptosporidium, gives a complete picture with detailed papers and abstracts of subjects, including pathogenesis and immune response, cell culture methods, detection methods, and molecular taxonomy. The main focus of the book is on descriptions and evaluations of traditional and novel methods to detect and differentiate Cryptosporidium. Papers are also included that describe methods of detecting Cryptosporidium in environmental water samples, detail surveys that determine the occurrence of Cryptosporidium in water supplies, and explain how to acquire laboratory accreditation for testing water samples.

The book focuses less on understanding the public health aspects of Cryptosporidium, its epidemiology, and treatment for the illness it causes. Notably absent are descriptions of serologic assays used for detecting Cryptosporidium in surveillance and epidemiologic studies. Recent studies have identified a high seroprevalence in the general population, which indicates that infection may be widespread (15). Including examples of quantitative microbial risk assessments would have been useful (6). These assessments are logical extensions of the valuable human infectivity studies described in several papers in the book. The treatment portion presents interesting results of randomized trials of nitroaxanide therapy but is otherwise limited.

The organization and grouping of the papers and abstracts were confusing. An introduction and summary for each section to help the reader identify and assimilate the information in an organized manner would have been helpful.

Despite these shortcomings, this book assembles and summarizes an impressive array of recent advances in Cryptosporidium research. I recommend this book for laboratory scientists, microbiologists, laboratory technicians, and water-quality professionals. Medical professionals involved with research to detect and differentiate Cryptosporidium will likely find this book useful. Because of the technical nature of the papers and the emphasis on microbiologic methods, the book will be less useful for public health professionals, risk managers, and epidemiologists. Because of the rapid progress of Cryptosporidium research, I recommend using this book as one reference but also conducting a broad search of current literature for new studies or additional advances.


Timothy J. Wade*Comments to Author 
Author affiliation: *U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA



  1. Leach  CT, Koo  FC, Kuhls  TL, Hilsenbeck  SG, Jenson  HB. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium parvum infection in children along the Texas-Mexico border and associated risk factors. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2000;62:65661.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Eisenberg  JN, Priest  JW, Lammie  PJ, Colford  JM Jr. The serologic response to Cryptosporidium in HIV-infected persons: implications for epidemiologic research. Emerg Infect Dis. 2001;7:10049. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Frost  FJ, Muller  TB, Craun  GF, Lockwood  WB, Calderon  RL. Serological evidence of endemic waterborne Cryptosporidium infections. Ann Epidemiol. 2002;12:2227. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Frost  FJ, Kunde  TR, Muller  TB, Craun  GF, Katz  LM, Hibbard  AJ, Serological responses to Cryptosporidium antigens among users of surface- vs. ground-water sources. Epidemiol Infect. 2003;131:11318. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Steinberg  EB, Mendoza  CE, Glass  R, Arana  B, Lopez  MB, Mejia  M, Prevalence of infection with waterborne pathogens: a seroepidemiologic study in children 6–36 months old in San Juan Sacatepequez, Guatemala. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2004;70:838.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Haas  CN. Epidemiology, microbiology, and risk assessment of waterborne pathogens including Cryptosporidium. J Food Prot. 2000;63:82731.PubMedGoogle Scholar


Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid1009.040566

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Table of Contents – Volume 10, Number 9—September 2004

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Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Timothy J. Wade, USEPA, MD 58C, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA; fax: 919-966-0655

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Page created: March 30, 2011
Page updated: March 30, 2011
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The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.