Anthroponotic transmission of Cryptosporidium parvum predominates in countries with poorer sanitation - a systematic review and meta-analysis

Philippa King, Kevin M. Tyler (Lead Author), Paul R. Hunter

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31 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Globally cryptosporidiosis is one of the commonest causes of mortality in children under 24 months old and may be associated with important longterm health effects. Whilst most strains of Cryptosporidium parvum are zoonotic, C. parvum IIc is almost certainly anthroponotic. The global distribution of this potentially important emerging infection is not clear.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review of papers identifying the subtype distribution of C. parvum infections globally. We searched PubMed and Scopus using the following key terms Cryptospor* AND parvum AND (genotyp* OR subtyp* OR gp60). Studies were eligible for inclusion if they had found C. parvum within their human study population and had subtyped some or all of these samples using standard gp60 subtyping. Pooled analyses of the proportion of strains being of the IIc subtype were determined using StatsDirect. Meta-regression analyses were run to determine any association between the relative prevalence of IIc and Gross Domestic Product, proportion of the population with access to improved drinking water and improved sanitation.
Results: From an initial 843 studies, 85 were included in further analysis. Cryptosporidium parvum IIc was found in 43 of these 85 studies. Across all studies the pooled estimate of relative prevalence of IIc was 19.0% (95% CI: 12.9–25.9%), but there was substantial heterogeneity. In a meta-regression analysis, the relative proportion of all C. parvum infections being IIc decreased as the percentage of the population with access to improved sanitation increased and was some 3.4 times higher in those studies focussing on HIV-positive indivduals.
Conclusions: The anthroponotic C. parvum IIc predominates primarily in lower-income countries with poor sanitation and in HIV-positive individuals. Given the apparent enhanced post-infectious virulence of the other main anthroponotic species of Cryptosporidium (C. hominis), it is important to learn about the impact of this subtype on human health.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16
JournalParasites & Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2019


  • Cryptosporidium parvum
  • Epidemiology
  • Sanitation
  • Subtypes

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