Parasites & vectors 2017 04 2010(1) 195 doi 10.1186/s13071-017-2111-y
Cryptosporidium and Giardia are important causes of diarrhoeal illness. Adequate knowledge of the molecular diversity and geographical distribution of these parasites and the environmental and climatic variables that influence their prevalence is important for effective control of infection in at-risk populations, yet relatively little is known about the epidemiology of these parasites in Africa. Cryptosporidium is associated with moderate to severe diarrhoea and increased mortality in African countries and both parasites negatively affect child growth and development. Malnutrition and HIV status are also important contributors to the prevalence of Cryptosporidium and Giardia in African countries. Molecular typing of both parasites in humans, domestic animals and wildlife to date indicates a complex picture of both anthroponotic, zoonotic and spill-back transmission cycles that requires further investigation. For Cryptosporidium, the only available drug (nitazoxanide) is ineffective in HIV and malnourished individuals and therefore more effective drugs are a high priority. Several classes of drugs with good efficacy exist for Giardia, but dosing regimens are suboptimal and emerging resistance threatens clinical utility. Climate change and population growth are also predicted to increase both malnutrition and the prevalence of these parasites in water sources. Dedicated and co-ordinated commitments from African governments involving "One Health" initiatives with multidisciplinary teams of veterinarians, medical workers, relevant government authorities, and public health specialists working together are essential to control and prevent the burden of disease caused by these parasites.