Little information is available on asymptomatic carriage of Cryptosporidium in immunocompetent and immunodeficient children. We prospectively studied a group of asymptomatic children, 78 immunocompetent and 50 immunodeficient, to document the incidence of asymptomatic carriage of cryptosporidiosis in such a population. We also investigated whether the treatment of children who carried asymptomatic cryptosporidiosis could help in reducing their risk of gastrointestinal symptoms as well as the shedding of infectious oocysts. The occurrence of multiple infections with common intestinal pathogens including Giardia lamblia was also investigated. Asymptomatic cryptosporidiosis was documented in 6.4% of immunocompetent and 22% of immunodeficient children. In a control symptomatic population Cryptosporidium was found in 4.4% of immunocompetent and 4.8% of immunodeficient children. Asymptomatic carriage of Cryptosporidium was documented in 2 human immunodeficiency virus-infected children, one of whom also carried Giardia asymptomatically. Treatment with spiramycin (100 mg/kg daily for 14 days) reduced significantly the duration of the shedding of potentially infectious oocysts. Finally no gastrointestinal symptoms developed in children treated for asymptomatic infection with Cryptosporidium, whereas children who were not treated developed gastrointestinal symptoms.
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