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Jul 27, 2003

what is Crypto and MAC

Response from Dr. Aberg

Crypto could stand for one of 2 diseases, either cryptosporidiosis or cryptococcosis. I think most of us use the "nickname" more commonly for cryptococcosis but certainly after one has identified which one they are talking about, we affectionately just say crypto (not to mention it is a lot shorter!)

Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a parasite, Cryptosporidium species with C. parvum being the most common species associated with cryptosporidial diarrheal illnesses. Cryptosporidial infections occur worldwide. In the United States, the organism is most prevalent in persons with AIDS, with infection rates ranging from 3% to 20%. In such countries as Africa and Haiti, Cryptosporidium can infect over 50% of the AIDS population. The organism is also a cause of sporadic diarrheal illness in HIV seronegative individuals.

Cryptococcosis is a fungal infection caused by Cryptococcus neoformans. Cryptococcosis is the most common life-threatening meningitis in AIDS but it can cause pneumonia, blood stream infections and invade any parts of the body, even bone.

MAC is short for Mycobacterium avium complex, an organism similar to Mycobacterium tuberculosis but not contagious person to person. MAC can cause pneumonia or severe diarrhea associated with severe wasting. It has a tendency to invade the bone marrow, liver and spleen. Prior to antiretroviral therapy, MAC was very common and a leading cause of death among people with AIDS.

There are many good AIDS and infectious disease textbooks that can describe these diseases in more detail for you. Good luck with your research.



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