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Cryptosporidium parvum (Apicomplexa, formerly Sporozoa) is the causative agent of cryptosporidiosis, an enteric disease of substantial medical and veterinary importance. C. parvum shows a number of unique features that differ from the rest of the class of coccidea in which it is currently grouped taxonomically. Differences occur in the overall structure of the transmission form and the invasive stages of the parasite, its intracellular location, the presence of recently described additional extracellular stages, the host range and target cell tropism, the ability to autoinfection, the nonresponsiveness to anticoccidial drugs, the immune response of the host, and immunochemical and genetic characteristics. These differences have an important impact on the infectivity, the epidemiology, the therapy, and the taxonomy of the parasite. The present article describes the structural analysis of the parasite using light and electron microscopy with an emphasis on structural details unique to C. parvum.
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