During a two year period 48 children admitted to hospitals in the Blackburn district were found to have cryptosporidium in stool samples. Cryptosporidium accounted for 6% of the 742 cases of childhood gastroenteritis, being as common as campylobacter. Altogether, 89% of children with cryptosporidiosis had diarrhoea, which was usually offensive and watery, and 80% vomited, the mean duration of both symptoms being six days. A substantial proportion were moderately ill with dehydration and persistent vomiting. Over half of all cases were aged 2 years or more and 37% were over 5 years. Most of the ill children were over 2 years, in contrast with other cases of gastroenteritis. Eight children were less than the 3rd centile for weight and three of these were investigated for failure to thrive. Only 6% of cases occurred in Asian children, but Asians accounted for 32% of all admissions with gastroenteritis and 59% of admissions with shigella. This unexpected ethnic difference may be due to limited contact with animals among Asians or to differences in diet.
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