What is Cryptosporidium? (Leopard Gecko Update)

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog you know that Sybil is one of my leopard geckos with Metabolic Bone Disease, and she recently had a decline in health. The vet and I initially believed it was due to her MBD, since that’s an obvious health problem of hers, but we wanted to be safe anyways so we scheduled her for a few tests and checkups. We also gave her several vitamin injections, switching her to hand feeding, and gave her multiple medications.

One of the tests scheduled for her was to see if she had cryptosporidium.

It took a long time for us to get a sample, since she only produced a stool sample once every 7-10 days at this point, but when we finally got a good sample it was shipped off for testing. 

The whole time I was waiting I refused to believe she had crypto. She only recently had symptoms, my other leo’s were fine, and I couldn’t imagine where or how she’d get such a thing. I was almost certain she wouldn’t have it and figured these health complications must be due to her MBD.

I was wrong. 

About three weeks ago I received a call from the vet and told she was positive for crypto.

Since then I’ve been working with the vet, researching crypto, and have been trying my best to figure out what I can do to give Sybil a comfortable life. I feared our time together was going to be short, but I didn’t give up on her right away.

Crypto is incurable, so she’ll have it forever, but just as one reddit commenter told me, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end for her.

What is Cryptosporidium?

Cryptosporidiosis, aka crypto, is an incurable disease caused by a parasite known as Cryptosporidium varanii. It’s also referred to as “stick tail” in leopard geckos, since one of the most common side effects/ signs is rapid weight loss. 

It’s not just a leopard gecko condition, but the specific strain that affects leopard geckos is different from other strains.

The main side effect of Cryptosporidium is “wasting syndrome”. This is when a leo starts to rapidly lose weight and can be caused by loss in appetite, regurgitation or other things. 

The organisms that cause this condition are passed through a leo’s stool and are highly contagious. A leo with known crypto shouldn’t be housed or put anywhere near other leopard geckos.

For this reason diagnosis is done with a fecal sample. This is usually done somewhere that specializes in this test, since it takes unique tools that most places don’t usually have for standard fecal exams.

As I said before this condition isn’t curable, but it is treatable. There is a medication called paromomycin that can be a helpful tool during treatment. It won’t kill all the crypto, but it will make it so that there are less parasites in your geckos system.

As my vet said “The best we can hope for is to achieve a ‘dormant’ state where crypto is still present, but the patient may be able to eat and gain back some weight.”

How is Sybil now?

I’m very happy to say that Sybil is doing well at the moment. She’s steadily gained weight, she sheds better, and she is now eating on her own again

I still have my concerns, since I’ve never personally dealt with crypto before and I know that it can be unpredictable, so I set Sybil up with another vet appointment for Tuesday, Mar 15, 2022.

After the Vet

Sybil’s vet appointment went way better than I expected it to. They said that she looks amazing, nothing looks weird, and her recovery is basically a miracle.

My vet didn’t expect her to start eating on her own so soon, but Sybil has been a survivor since day one. We did decide to give Sybil another round of the medications that she already took previously, but this is just a precaution so that she can gather more strength and continue being as healthy as she is right now.

We decided not to give her the crypto specific medication since the other meds worked well and there’s no need to change something that performed a miracle for her.

Doctors Notes After Her Appointment

Thank you to everyone who has supported Sybil! I couldn’t be more excited about her swift recovery. I hope to have a lot more time with my girl and I also hope that my other two leo’s come out negative for crypto. I know there are chances crypto can spike again, but I’m doing everything I can to keep that from happening. Both my other leo’s are being tested for crypto right now, because crypto is so contagious, but I’m feeling optimistic that they will be alright. They never had any contact with each other so the chances are slim. They used to stay on a big metal shelf stacked one terrarium over another, but they’ve been in different rooms since we got the diagnosis.

Do you want to support Sybil and get a sticker!

When Sybil was at her worst I did a fundraiser for her and I still have lots of stickers left over. If you’re interested in getting one you can now get them at a discounted price!

Her stickers are now 1 sticker for $2 or 2 for $3.50 FREE shipping in the US. You can find those here.

Thank you for reading and until next time…

Stay Psyched,

Leeann

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