Within the past 10 days the Central District Health Department has seen 19 cases of cryptosporidiosis. During a normal year the health district might see 10 cases.
Crypto is a parasite that can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. It can spread through swimming pools and other recreational water. Crypto cases have been reported in Boise and Meridian, but the disease appears to be widespread in the community.
As a result of the outbreak, the health department is urging the public to take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.
The health department has advised area swimming pool operators of the situation and many responded by hyper-chlorinating the pools, a technique that kills the parasite. Still, those efforts can be rendered ineffective when people carrying the disease use recreational waters.
We know the hot weather is driving people to seek relief in area pools, lakes and rivers, Kimberly Link, Program Manager for Communicable Disease Control at CDHD, said in a press release. If youve been ill with diarrhea we cant emphasize enough how important it is to stay out of recreational waters for at least two weeks after your symptoms resolve.
Cryptosporidiosis, commonly known as crypto, is usually spread by accidentally swallowing water that has been contaminated with human stool or animal waste. The most frequent symptom is watery diarrhea with abdominal cramping, which can be accompanied by dehydration, weight loss, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. If people have been in recreational waters and are experiencing persistent, watery diarrhea they are urged to consult their healthcare provider.
Once a person is infected, the parasites live in the intestines and are passed in the stool. In most instances, infected persons recover without medication. However, a healthcare provider may choose to use medication in cases that do not improve or when other medical issues exist.
Infected persons can continue to spread the disease up to two weeks after diarrhea subsides, so they should avoid activities involving recreational waters.
Because crypto can survive for days even in properly chlorinated pools, the health department is urging people to follow these six steps to help reduce the spread of recreational water illnesses:
1. Dont swim when you have diarrhea. This is especially important for kids in diapers. If you have been diagnosed with crypto, please stay out of swimming pools and recreational waters for at least two weeks after symptoms are gone.
2. Dont swallow the pool water. In fact, avoid getting water in your mouth.
3. Practice good hygiene. Take a shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
4. Take your kids on regular bathroom breaks or change diapers often, and use swim diapers. Waiting to hear I have to go may mean that its too late.
5. Change diapers in a bathroom; not at the poolside. Germs can spread to surfaces around the pool and spread illness.
6. Wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming. Everyone has invisible amounts of fecal matter on their bottoms that end up in the pool.
Day care providers are urged not to take children with diarrhea to swimming pools. Pool users are also reminded to wash their hands with soap and water before eating or snacking at poolside.
For additional information about cryptosporidiosis, please visit the CDCs website at: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto.