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The CDC reports there is a increase in diarrhea illness caused by the parasite, Cyrptosporidium. Both the parasite and the illness is known as “Crypto”. The CDC reports over 32 outbreaks in 24 states in 2016. This us up from 16 in 2014. Final numbers from 2015 will come soon.
What is Crypto?
Crytosporidium is a parasite protected by an outer shell.
This shell allows it to live outside the body on surfaces. The shell also allows it to be chlorine resistant which explains why it can live in swimming pools.
How common is Crypto?
According to the CDC, Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the United States. Its found in every region of the US and the world.
The CDC reports close to 750,000 cases of cryptosporidiosis occur every year in the US.
How is it spread?
Its spread in drinking water and recreational water, such as swimming pools. Since it lives in the intestines of humans and animals it becomes spread after one passes stool, or poops. People coming into contact with an infected individual’s poop could become infected with Crypto.
It is not passed through respiratory transmission or blood. However if feces comes into contact with one’s mouth, or wound, it can transmit Crypto.
Coming into contact with feces contaminated soil, surfaces, water, food therefore put one at risk.
What are the symptoms?
The parasite can cause any of the following:
Abdominal Pain and Cramping
Lack of appetite
and sometimes no symptoms at all.
When do symptoms show and how long do they last?
After one becomes exposed to Cryptosporidium, symptoms could show within 48 hours to 10 days. Symptoms can last 1-2 weeks.
What is the treatment for Crypto?
The infection many times is self limiting. Hydration is imperative and initial treatment is making sure one does not become dehyrated. Young children, pregnant women, elderly, those with weakened immune systems, AIDS, cancer and immunosuppressed transplant patients are at higher risk of serious infection.
Some medical providers may use Nitazoxanide. According to the National Foundation for Infections Diseases:
Nitazoxanide (Alinia ®) may be used to treat Crypto in both adults and children 12 months of age and over. Nitazoxanide is available as a tablet for adults and as a liquid suspension. A three-day treatment regimen is recommended.
How do we prevent Crypto?
Always wash your hands with soap and water
Avoid eating off of non clean surfaces
Avoid swimming pools that may have just been soiled
Avoid ingesting water while swimming
Avoid feces of those individuals infected
Avoid sexual contact where oral – anal contact can occur
Change baby’s diapers away from the pool in case it blows into the water
Do not allow any family members with diarrhea to enter the pool
Inform your medical provider if you have any of the above symptoms so he/she can test the stool.
Don’t pee or poop in the pool
One study in 2012 found 1 in 5 people ADMIT to urinating in the pool, which can affect chlorine strength.
Many choose not to wait in line at public bathrooms or use the wet toilets at public water parks and find it easier to relieve themselves in the pool. For women worried about sitting on wet toilet seats I recommend using a large soda cup and in the stall standing and urinating into it. Pour it out into the toilet and flush. Clean, easy and environmentally sensitive. Men, there’s no excuse. Towel off and head to the potty.