Few investigations have been conducted on risk factors for Cryptosporidium
infection in communities from developing countries. A study was conducted to determine the prevalence and risk factors for cryptosporidiosis in San Carlos island, Venezuela. A sample of 515 subjects (mean age ± SD: 21.4 ± 17.8 years) was surveyed. Single fecal specimens were collected and modified Ziehl-Neelsen carbolfuchsin staining of formalin-ether concentrate stools were examined for identification of the parasite. Infections with Cryptosporidium
(67 of 515, 13%) were common. Prevalence of the parasite varied among sectors of the community; 34 of 67(50.7%) cases of cryptosporidiosis clustered in two sectors with extreme poverty. Variables strongly associated with a higher risk for the infection (p < 0.01) were residing in these sectors versus the remainder, living in a hut or small residence versus a brick or larger house, using an area of backyard rather than a toilet or latrine for defecation, and having contact with soil contaminated with human feces. Crowding was also a risk (p < 0.05). Contact with human feces contaminated-soil may be an important mode of transmission and poverty a predisposing factor for the infection.