- An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay system using oocyst lysate as antigen was used to detect serum- specific antibody responses to Cryptosporidium parvum between 1989 and 1994 in consecutive sera obtained at birth, and at the age of 6, 12, and 23 months, from 52 infants living in a Bedouin town located in the south of Israel. The serologic tests revealed high levels of immunoglobulin G anti-Cryptosporidium at birth that dropped significantly by the age of 6 months and then rose continuously to a geometric mean titer of 481 at age 23 months. The serum immunoglobulin M Cryptosporidium antibodies rose continuously from nearly undetectable levels at birth to a geometric mean titer of 471 (157-fold increase) at age 23 months. All the subjects already showed at 6 months a significant rise in immunoglobulin M. A significant rise in immunoglobulin A titers was detected in 48% and 91% of subjects at 6 and 23 months, respectively. By monthly surveillance, microscopy using the modified Ziehl-Neelsen method and confirmed by indirect immunofluorescence assay detected Cryptosporidium antigens in only 11% at age 6 months and 48% at age 23 months. The extent of exposure to Cryptosporidium immediately after birth as detected by serology is much higher than that predicted by frequent prospective assessment of stool samples.