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Are you suffering from a disease you can't pronounce? Even with a medical degree you might still have trouble saying "cryptosporidosis," which is one reason so many doctors are happy to leave the diagnosis as "diarrhea."

But this small parasite has one goal -- to get into your digestive tract and have babies. These are expelled along with feces as tough-shelled microscopic cysts that are immune to chlorine bleach. After being flushed down the toilet, they can easily can slip through your city's water-purification plants to return to your kitchen's water faucet a few weeks later -- making it one of the world's most common waterborne diseases.

Fortunately, illness caused by this tiny protozoan is generally brief and mild. But if you are unlucky enough to have cancer or HIV, you might suffer chronic intractable diarrhea -- up to 5 gallons a day with a wide range of ugly complications. Since most laboratories don't routinely test for the organism, your likelihood of remaining undiagnosed is close to 100%. In fact, scientists can't even agree on the exact classification of the single-celled animal -- which has at least 25 different species.

It hardly matters, since no effective treatment for Crypto exists -- a depressing fact for the nearly 1 million Americans likely to suffer this year from a disease they can't even spell.

But If you're determined to avoid Cryptosporidosis, you can boil all your drinking and bathing water, or filter it through diatomaceous earth to remove the cysts. You will want to avoid swimming pools, hot tubs, or handling your goth girlfriend's pet leopord gecko. Since Crypto cysts can survive for long periods outside the body, you will want to clean your kitchen counters with a blowtorch. Don't even think about touching a public toilet or having physical contact (including sex) with anyone else who might be infected, which includes just about the entire human race.

Or you can just forget about it. You'll never be able to remember the name tomorrow morning anyway.

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