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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2018 Apr;98(4):1086-1090. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.17-0741. Epub 2018 Feb 1.

Expectoration of Cryptosporidium Parasites in Sputum of Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Positive and -Negative Adults.

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University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Sydney, Australia.
Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.
Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda.
Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Grafton, Massachusetts.


Respiratory cryptosporidiosis is thought to be a rare, end-stage complication of HIV. Few studies have systematically examined the frequency of such infection in adults. Sputum specimens submitted for tuberculosis (TB) testing at Mulago Hospital, Uganda, were anonymously retested for Cryptosporidium using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Visual confirmation using immunofluorescence confocal microscopy was performed for a subset of PCR-positive samples. Of 824 sputum samples tested, 24 (2.9%) were Cryptosporidium positive. Prevalence in sputum ranged between 0% and 10% in each month of the study and exceeded TB prevalence in some months. In this referral population, respiratory Cryptosporidium prevalence was lower in people with HIV (1.3% versus 4.4% without HIV, P = 0.028) and higher in those with TB (6.8% versus 2.6% without TB, P = 0.086). The weak association between respiratory Cryptosporidium infection and TB persisted after controlling for HIV (odds ratio = 3.2, 95% confidence interval: 0.9, 11.8; P = 0.080). This is the first study to document adult respiratory tract cryptosporidiosis in a referral population with presumed TB. These findings 1) confirm that Cryptosporidium respiratory infection occurs in HIV-negative and -positive adults; 2) suggest there is potential for Cryptosporidium to be disseminated or transmitted by coughing or expectoration; and 3) identify possible synergy between Cryptosporidium and TB in the respiratory tract.

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